Binding sites of Drosophila melanogaster sex peptide pheromones

J Neurobiol. 2000 Jul;44(1):57-71.


Drosophila melanogaster sex peptide (SP) and Ductus ejaculatorius peptide (DUP99B) are male pheromones transferred in the seminal fluid to the female during copulation. Both reduce sexual receptivity and stimulate oviposition in females. The presence of high-affinity SP and DUP99B binding sites in the female were investigated by incubation of cryostat tissue sections with (125)I-iodinated peptides and subsequent autoradiography. We found that in adult females radiolabeled SP and DUP99B bind to peripheral nerves, the subesophageal ganglion, the cervical connective, to discrete parts of the thoracic ganglion, and to the genital tract. Weak and uniform labeling was detected in the neuropil of the brain and the thoracic ganglion. The labeling pattern in the nervous system suggests binding of the peptides to sensory afferents or glial cells. Scatchard analysis of the binding of (125)I-DUP99B to antennal nerves yielded a dissociation constant K(d) of 6.4 nM. Competition experiments with peptide fragments show that the peptides bind with their homologous C-terminal regions. Binding sites in the nervous system of females are established throughout sexual maturation. Prominent binding of the peptides to afferent nerves suggests modification of sensory input.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / metabolism*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Male
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Peripheral Nerves / metabolism*
  • Sex Attractants / metabolism*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*


  • Acp36DE protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Peptides
  • SP protein, Drosophila
  • Sex Attractants
  • male accessory gland peptide, Drosophila