For sexually reproducing organisms, production of male or female gametes depends on specifying the correct sexual identity in the germline. In D. melanogaster, Sex lethal (Sxl) is the key gene that controls sex determination in both the soma and the germline, but how it does so in the germline is unknown, other than that it is different than in the soma. We conducted an RNA expression profiling experiment to identify direct and indirect germline targets of Sxl specifically in the undifferentiated germline. We find that, in these cells, Sxl loss does not lead to a global masculinization observed at the whole-genome level. In contrast, Sxl appears to affect a discrete set of genes required in the male germline, such as Phf7. We also identify Tudor domain containing protein 5-like (Tdrd5l) as a target for Sxl regulation that is important for male germline identity. Tdrd5l is repressed by Sxl in female germ cells, but is highly expressed in male germ cells where it promotes proper male fertility and germline differentiation. Additionally, Tdrd5l localizes to cytoplasmic granules with some characteristics of RNA Processing (P-) Bodies, suggesting that it promotes male identity in the germline by regulating post-transcriptional gene expression.
Primus, S., Pozmanter, C., Baxter, K., & Van Doren, M. (2019). Tudor-domain containing protein 5-like promotes male sexual identity in the Drosophila germline and is repressed in females by Sex lethal. PLoS Genetics, 15(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1007617