Sex determination in beetles: production of all male progeny by parental RNAi knockdown of transformer

Sci Rep. 2012;2:602. doi: 10.1038/srep00602. Epub 2012 Aug 24.


Sex in insects is determined by a cascade of regulators ultimately controlling sex-specific splicing of a transcription factor, Doublesex (Dsx). We recently identified homolog of dsx in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum (Tcdsx). Here, we report on the identification and characterization of a regulator of Tcdsx splicing in T. castaneum. Two male-specific and one female-specific isoforms of T. castaneum transformer (Tctra) were identified. RNA interference-aided knockdown of Tctra in pupa or adults caused a change in sex from females to males by diverting the splicing of Tcdsx pre-mRNA to male-specific isoform. All the pupa and adults developed from Tctra dsRNA injected final instar larvae showed male-specific sexually dimorphic structures. Tctra parental RNAi caused an elimination of females from the progeny resulting in production of all male progeny. Transformer parental RNAi could be used to produce all male population for use in pest control though sterile male release methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Coleoptera / genetics*
  • Coleoptera / growth & development
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Gene Order
  • Genes, Insect
  • Larva / genetics
  • Male
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / genetics
  • Sex Determination Processes / genetics*


  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA, Double-Stranded