The Orthologue of the Fruitfly Sex Behaviour Gene Fruitless in the Mosquito Aedes aegypti: Evolution of Genomic Organisation and Alternative Splicing

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Abstract

In Drosophila melanogaster the doublesex (dsx) and fruitless (fru) regulatory genes act at the bottom of the somatic sex determination pathway. Both are regulated via alternative splicing by an upstream female-specific TRA/TRA-2 complex, recognizing a common cis element. dsx controls somatic sexual differentiation of non-neural as well as of neural tissues. fru, on the other hand, expresses male-specific functions only in neural system where it is required to built the neural circuits underlying proper courtship behaviour. In the mosquito Aedes aegypti sex determination is different from Drosophila. The key male determiner M, which is located on one of a pair of homomorphic sex chromosomes, controls sex-specific splicing of the mosquito dsx orthologue. In this study we report the genomic organization and expression of the fru homologue in Ae. aegypti (Aeafru). We found that it is sex-specifically spliced suggesting that it is also under the control of the sex determination pathway. Comparative analyses between the Aeafru and Anopheles gambiae fru (Angfru) genomic loci revealed partial conservation of exon organization and extensive divergence of intron lengths. We find that Aeadsx and Aeafru share novel cis splicing regulatory elements conserved in the alternatively spliced regions. We propose that in Aedes aegypti sex-specific splicing of dsx and fru is most likely under the control of splicing regulatory factors which are different from TRA and TRA-2 found in other dipteran insects and discuss the potential use of fru and dsx for developing new genetic strategies in vector control.

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Salvemini, M., D’Amato, R., Petrella, V., Aceto, S., Nimmo, D., Neira, M., … Saccone, G. (2013). The Orthologue of the Fruitfly Sex Behaviour Gene Fruitless in the Mosquito Aedes aegypti: Evolution of Genomic Organisation and Alternative Splicing. PLoS ONE, 8(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0048554

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