Sex in flies: what 'body--mind' dichotomy?

Dev Biol. 2007 Jun 1;306(1):10-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.03.022. Epub 2007 Mar 23.


Sexual behavior in Drosophila results from interactions of multiple neural and genetic pathways. Male-specific fruitless (fruM) is a major component inducing male behaviors, but recent work indicates key roles for other sex-specific and sex-non-specific components. Notably, male-like courtship by retained (retn) mutant females reveals an intrinsic pathway for male behavior independent of fruM, while behavioral differences between males and females with equal levels of fruM expression indicate involvement of another sex-specific component. Indeed, sex-specific products of doublesex (dsxF and dsxM), that control sexual differentiation of the body, also contribute to sexual behavior and neural development of both sexes. In addition, the single product of the dissatisfaction (dsf) gene is needed for appropriate behavior in both sexes, implying additional complexities and levels of control. The genetic mechanisms controlling sexual behavior are similar to those controlling body sexual development, suggesting biological advantages of modifying an intermediate intrinsic pathway in generation of two substantially different behavioral or morphological states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Doublecortin Domain Proteins
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect / physiology*
  • Male
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / genetics
  • Neuropeptides / physiology
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / physiology
  • Sex*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Doublecortin Domain Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Transcription Factors
  • dsf protein, Drosophila
  • fru protein, Drosophila