Ectopic expression of the female transformer gene product leads to female differentiation of chromosomally male Drosophila

Cell. 1988 Jun 17;53(6):887-95. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(88)90369-8.


The transformer (tra) gene of Drosophila is necessary for all aspects of female somatic sexual differentiation. tra uses a single set of precursor RNAs to produce female- and non-sex-specific RNAs by alternative splicing. Ectopic expression of the female-specific RNA causes chromosomal males to develop as females, indicative of a linear pathway of regulated genes controlling sex. Genetic and molecular tests with this ectopically expressed gene are consistent with the following order of gene action: X chromosome to autosome ratio----Sex lethal----transformer----transformer-2----doublesex----intersex--- - terminal differentiation. Expression of the female-specific tra RNA in tra mutants is sufficient to lead to female differentiation. Expression of the non-sex-specific tra RNA in tra mutants is not sufficient to lead to female differentiation. The tra female-specific activity is not required for female-specific splicing of the tra precursor RNAs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • RNA / genetics*
  • RNA Precursors / genetics*
  • RNA Splicing
  • Sex Differentiation*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA