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3 Janelia Publications

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    Baker Lab
    07/01/11 | Direct targets of the D. melanogaster DSXF protein and the evolution of sexual development.
    Luo SD, Shi GW, Baker BS
    Development. 2011 Jul;138(13):2761-71. doi: 10.1242/dev.065227

    Uncovering the direct regulatory targets of doublesex (dsx) and fruitless (fru) is crucial for an understanding of how they regulate sexual development, morphogenesis, differentiation and adult functions (including behavior) in Drosophila melanogaster. Using a modified DamID approach, we identified 650 DSX-binding regions in the genome from which we then extracted an optimal palindromic 13 bp DSX-binding sequence. This sequence is functional in vivo, and the base identity at each position is important for DSX binding in vitro. In addition, this sequence is enriched in the genomes of D. melanogaster (58 copies versus approximately the three expected from random) and in the 11 other sequenced Drosophila species, as well as in some other Dipterans. Twenty-three genes are associated with both an in vivo peak in DSX binding and an optimal DSX-binding sequence, and thus are almost certainly direct DSX targets. The association of these 23 genes with optimum DSX binding sites was used to examine the evolutionary changes occurring in DSX and its targets in insects.

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    Baker Lab
    06/24/11 | Functional dissection of the neural substrates for sexual behaviors in Drosophila melanogaster.
    Meissner GW, Manoli DS, Chavez JF, Knapp J, Lin TL, Stevens RJ, Mellert DJ, Tran DH, Baker BS
    Genetics. 2011 Jun 24;189(1):195-211. doi: 10.1534/genetics.111.129940

    The male-specific Fruitless proteins (Fru(M)) act to establish the potential for male courtship behavior in Drosophila melanogaster and are expressed in small groups of neurons throughout the nervous system. We screened  1000 GAL4 lines, using assays for general courtship, male-male interactions, and male fertility to determine the phenotypes resulting from the GAL4 driven inhibition of Fru(M) expression in subsets of these neurons. A battery of secondary assays showed that the phenotypic classes of GAL4 lines could be divided into subgroups based on additional neurobiological and behavioral criteria. For example, in some lines restoration of Fru(M) expression in cholinergic neurons restores fertility or reduces male-male courtship. Persistent chains of males courting each other in some lines results from males courting both sexes indiscriminately whereas in other lines this phenotype result from apparent habituation deficits. Inhibition of ectopic Fru(M) expression in females, in populations of neurons where Fru(M) is necessary for male fertility, can rescue female infertility. To identify the neurons responsible for some of the observed behavioral alterations, we determined the overlap between the identified GAL4 lines and endogenous Fru(M) expression in lines with fertility defects. The GAL4 lines causing fertility defects generally had widespread overlap with Fru(M) expression in many regions of the nervous system suggesting likely redundant Fru(M)-expressing neuronal pathways capable of conferring male fertility. From associations between the screened behaviors, we propose a functional model for courtship initiation.

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    Baker Lab
    01/01/11 | Turning males on: activation of male courtship behavior in Drosophila melanogaster.
    Pan Y, Robinett CC, Baker BS
    PLoS One. 2011;6:e21144. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021144

    The innate sexual behaviors of Drosophila melanogaster males are an attractive system for elucidating how complex behavior patterns are generated. The potential for male sexual behavior in D. melanogaster is specified by the fruitless (fru) and doublesex (dsx) sex regulatory genes. We used the temperature-sensitive activator dTRPA1 to probe the roles of fru(M)- and dsx-expressing neurons in male courtship behaviors. Almost all steps of courtship, from courtship song to ejaculation, can be induced at very high levels through activation of either all fru(M) or all dsx neurons in solitary males. Detailed characterizations reveal different roles for fru(M) and dsx in male courtship. Surprisingly, the system for mate discrimination still works well when all dsx neurons are activated, but is impaired when all fru(M) neurons are activated. Most strikingly, we provide evidence for a fru(M)-independent courtship pathway that is primarily vision dependent.

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