Male-specific fruitless isoforms target neurodevelopmental genes to specify a sexually dimorphic nervous system.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:In Drosophila, male courtship behavior is regulated in large part by the gene fruitless (fru). fru encodes a set of putative transcription factors that promote male sexual behavior by controlling the development of sexually dimorphic neuronal circuitry. Little is known about how Fru proteins function at the level of transcriptional regulation or the role that isoform diversity plays in the formation of a male-specific nervous system. RESULTS:To characterize the roles of sex-specific Fru isoforms in specifying male behavior, we generated novel isoform-specific mutants and used a genomic approach to identify direct Fru isoform targets during development. We demonstrate that all Fru isoforms directly target genes involved in the development of the nervous system, with individual isoforms exhibiting unique binding specificities. We observe that fru behavioral phenotypes are specified by either a single isoform or a combination of isoforms. Finally, we illustrate the utility of these data for the identification of novel sexually dimorphic genomic enhancers and novel downstream regulators of male sexual behavior. CONCLUSIONS:These findings suggest that Fru isoform diversity facilitates both redundancy and specificity in gene expression, and that the regulation of neuronal developmental genes may be the most ancient and conserved role of fru in the specification of a male-specific nervous system.
Project description:Courtship is pivotal to successful reproduction throughout the animal kingdom. Sexual differences in the nervous system are thought to underlie courtship behavior. Male courtship behavior in Drosophila is in large part regulated by the gene fruitless (fru). fru has been reported to encode at least three putative BTB-zinc-finger transcription factors predicted to have different DNA-binding specificities. Although a large number of previous studies have demonstrated that fru plays essential roles in male courtship behavior, we know little about the function of Fru isoforms at the molecular level. Our recent study revealed that male-specific Fru isoforms are expressed in highly overlapping subsets of neurons in the male brain and ventral nerve cord. Fru isoforms play both distinct and redundant roles in male courtship behavior. Importantly, we have identified for the first time, by means of the DamID technique, direct Fru transcriptional target genes. Fru target genes overwhelmingly represent genes previously reported to be involved in the nervous system development, such as CadN, lola and pdm2. Our study provides important insight into how the sexually dimorphic neural circuits underlying reproductive behavior are established.
Project description:In Drosophila,male courtship behaviour serves as an excellent paradigm to study how innate behaviors are controlled by the nervous system. These behaviors are in large part regulated by the gene fruitless (fru). fru encodes a set of putative transcription factors that promote male sexual behaior by controlling the development of sexually-dimorphic neuronal circuitry. Little is known about how Fru proteins function at the level of transcriptional regulation. To characterize the roles of fru sex-specific isoforms in specifying male behavior, we generated novel isoform-specific mutants, and used a genomic approach to identify direct Fru isoform targets during development. We demonstrate that all Fru isoforms directly target genes involved in the development of the nervous system, with individual isoforms exhibiting unique binding specificities. We observe that fru behavioral phenotypes are specificed by either a single, or combination, of isoforms. Finally, we illustrate the utility of these data for the identification of novel sexually dimorphic genoic enhancers, and novel downstream regulators of male-sexual behavior. 3 replicates per condition, one dye swap; per condition: one control, one experimental per replicate. No processed data for GSM1261882 and GSM1261883 are available.
Project description:Courtship song is a critical component of male courtship behavior in Drosophila, making the female more receptive to copulation and communicating species-specific information [1-6]. Sex mosaic studies have shown that the sex of certain regions of the central nervous system (CNS) is critical to song production . Our examination of one of these regions, the mesothoracic ganglion (Msg), revealed the coexpression of two sex-determination genes, fruitless (fru) and doublesex (dsx). Because both genes are involved in creating a sexually dimorphic CNS [8, 9] and are necessary for song production [10-13], we investigated the individual contributions of fru and dsx to the specification of a male CNS and song production. We show a novel requirement for dsx in specifying a sexually dimorphic population of fru-expressing neurons in the Msg. Moreover, by using females constitutively expressing the male-specific isoforms of fru (Fru(M)), we show a critical requirement for the male isoform of dsx (Dsx(M)), alongside Fru(M), in the specification of courtship song. Therefore, although Fru(M) expression is sufficient for the performance of many male-specific behaviors , we have shown that without Dsx(M), the determination of a male-specific CNS and thus a full complement of male behaviors are not realized.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Male-specific products of the fruitless (fru) gene control the development and function of neuronal circuits that underlie male-specific behaviors in Drosophila, including courtship. Alternative splicing generates at least three distinct Fru isoforms, each containing a different zinc-finger domain. Here, we examine the expression and function of each of these isoforms. RESULTS: We show that most fru(+) cells express all three isoforms, yet each isoform has a distinct function in the elaboration of sexually dimorphic circuitry and behavior. The strongest impairment in courtship behavior is observed in fru(C) mutants, which fail to copulate, lack sine song, and do not generate courtship song in the absence of visual stimuli. Cellular dimorphisms in the fru circuit are dependent on Fru(C) rather than other single Fru isoforms. Removal of Fru(C) from the neuronal classes vAB3 or aSP4 leads to cell-autonomous feminization of arborizations and loss of courtship in the dark. CONCLUSIONS: These data map specific aspects of courtship behavior to the level of single fru isoforms and fru(+) cell types-an important step toward elucidating the chain of causality from gene to circuit to behavior.
Project description:Inter-male aggressive behavior is a prominent sexually dimorphic behavior. Neural circuits that underlie aggressive behavior are therefore likely under the control of sex-determining genes. However, the neurogenetic mechanism that generates sex-specific aggressive behavior remains largely unknown. Here, we found that a neuronal class specified by one of the Drosophila sex determining genes, fruitless (fru), belongs to the neural circuit that generates male-type aggressive behavior. This neuronal class can promote aggressive behavior independent of another sex determining gene, doublesex (dsx), although dsx is involved in ensuring that aggressive behavior is performed only toward males. We also found that three fru isoforms with different DNA binding domains show a division of labor on male aggressive behaviors. A dominant role of fru in specifying sex-specific aggressive behavior may underscore a genetic mechanism that allows male-type aggressive behavior to evolve at least partially independently from courtship behavior, which is under different selective pressures.
Project description:The fruitless gene (fru) encodes a set of transcription factors (Fru) that display sexually dimorphic gene expression in the brain of the fruit-fly; Drosophila melanogaster. Behavioural studies have demonstrated that fru is essential for courtship behaviour in the male fly and is thought to act by directing the development of sex-specific neural circuitry that encodes this innate behavioural response. This study reports the identification of direct regulatory targets of the sexually dimorphic isoforms of the Fru protein using an in vitro model system. Genome wide binding sites were identified for each of the isoforms using Chromatin Immunoprecipitation coupled to deep sequencing (ChIP-Seq). Putative target genes were found to be involved in processes such as neurotransmission, ion-channel signalling and neuron development. All isoforms showed a significant bias towards genes located on the X-chromosome, which may reflect a specific role for Fru in regulating x-linked genes. Taken together with expression analysis carried out in Fru positive neurons specifically isolated from the male fly brain, it appears that the Fru protein acts as a transcriptional activator. Understanding the regulatory cascades induced by Fru will help to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that are important for specification of neural circuitry underlying complex behaviour.
Project description:Male courtship in Drosophila melanogaster is a sexually dimorphic innate behavior that is hardwired in the nervous system. Understanding the neural mechanism of courtship behavior requires the anatomical and functional characterization of all the neurons involved. Courtship involves a series of distinctive behavioral patterns, culminating in the final copulation step, where sperms from the male are transferred to the female. The duration of this process is tightly controlled by multiple genes. The fruitless (fru) gene is one of the factors that regulate the duration of copulation. Using several intersectional genetic combinations to restrict the labeling of GAL4 lines, we found that a subset of a serotonergic cluster of fru neurons co-express the dopamine-synthesizing enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase, and provide behavioral and immunological evidence that these neurons are involved in the regulation of copulation duration.
Project description:Although nervous system sexual dimorphisms are known in many species, relatively little is understood about the molecular mechanisms generating these dimorphisms. Recent findings in Drosophila provide the tools for dissecting how neurogenesis and neuronal differentiation are modulated by the Drosophila sex-determination regulatory genes to produce nervous system sexual dimorphisms. Here we report studies aimed at illuminating the basis of the sexual dimorphic axonal projection patterns of foreleg gustatory receptor neurons (GRNs): only in males do GRN axons project across the midline of the ventral nerve cord. We show that the sex determination genes fruitless (fru) and doublesex (dsx) both contribute to establishing this sexual dimorphism. Male-specific Fru (Fru(M)) acts in foreleg GRNs to promote midline crossing by their axons, whereas midline crossing is repressed in females by female-specific Dsx (Dsx(F)). In addition, midline crossing by these neurons might be promoted in males by male-specific Dsx (Dsx(M)). Finally, we (1) demonstrate that the roundabout (robo) paralogs also regulate midline crossing by these neurons, and (2) provide evidence that Fru(M) exerts its effect on midline crossing by directly or indirectly regulating Robo signaling.
Project description:In Drosophila melanogaster, fruitless (fru) encodes male-specific transcription factors (FRU(M); encoded by fru P1) required for courtship behaviors (reviewed in). However, downstream effectors of FRU(M) throughout development are largely unknown. During metamorphosis the nervous system is remodeled for adult function, the timing of which is coordinated by the steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (ecdysone) through the ecdysone receptor, a heterodimer of the nuclear receptors EcR (isoforms are EcR-A, EcR-B1, or EcR-B2) and Ultraspiracle (USP) (reviewed in). Here, we show that genes identified as regulated downstream of FRU(M) during metamorphosis are significantly overrepresented with genes known to be regulated in response to ecdysone or EcR. FRU(M) and EcR isoforms are coexpressed in neurons in the CNS during metamorphosis in an isoform-specific manner. Reduction of EcR-A levels in fru P1-expressing neurons of males caused a significant increase in male-male courtship activity and significant reduction in size of two antennal lobe glomeruli. Additional genes were identified that are regulated downstream of EcR-A in fru P1-expressing neurons. Thus, EcR-A is required in fru P1-expressing neurons for wild-type male courtship behaviors and the establishment of male-specific neuronal architecture.
Project description:We show that a small subset of two to six subesophageal neurons, expressing the male products of the male courtship master regulator gene products fruitless Male (fru M), are required in the early stages of the Drosophila melanogaster male courtship behavioral program. Loss of fru M expression or inhibition of synaptic transmission in these fru M(+) neurons results in delayed courtship initiation and a failure to progress to copulation primarily under visually-deficient conditions. We identify a fru M-dependent sexually dimorphic arborization in the tritocerebrum made by two of these neurons. Furthermore, these SOG neurons extend descending projections to the thorax and abdominal ganglia. These anatomical and functional characteristics place these neurons in the position to integrate gustatory and higher-order signals in order to properly initiate and progress through early courtship.