Regulation of sexual differentiation in D. melanogaster via alternative splicing of RNA from the transformer gene

Cell. 1987 Aug 28;50(5):739-47. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(87)90332-1.


The transformer (tra) gene regulates female somatic sexual differentiation and has no known function in males. It gives rise to two sizes of RNA, one non-sex-specific and one female-specific. These two RNAs are shown to be present throughout the life cycle, and related by the use of alternative first intron splice acceptor sites. The non-sex-specific RNA has a 73 base first intron, while that in the female-specific RNA is 248 bases. The non-sex-specific RNA has no long open reading frame, while the female-specific RNA has a single long open reading frame beginning at the first AUG. Substitution of a heat shock promoter for the tra promoter still leads to female-specific differentiation of otherwise tra-females. We suggest a mechanism by which Sex-lethal controls itself and tra.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Endonucleases
  • Female
  • Genes, Lethal
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Male
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Poly A / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA Splicing*
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sex Differentiation
  • Single-Strand Specific DNA and RNA Endonucleases
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Poly A
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Endonucleases
  • Single-Strand Specific DNA and RNA Endonucleases

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M17478
  • GENBANK/M22205
  • GENBANK/M22206