Sex-specific alternative splicing of RNA from the transformer gene results from sequence-dependent splice site blockage

Cell. 1989 Aug 11;58(3):449-59. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(89)90426-1.


Sex-specific alternative splicing of RNA from the Drosophila transformer gene involves competition between two 3' splice sites. In the absence of Sex-lethal activity (as in males), only one site functions; in the presence of Sex-lethal activity (as in females), both sites function. Information for sex-specific splice site choice is contained within the intron itself. Deletions of the splice site used in males lead to Sex-lethal-independent use of the otherwise female-specific site. The relative amounts of unspliced and spliced RNA derived from these mutant genes do not change with changes in Sex-lethal activity. Specific nucleotide changes in the non-sex-specific splice site do not affect splicing activity but eliminate Sex-lethal-induced regulation. A deletion removing material between the two splice sites does not eliminate sex-specific regulation, while a deletion of the female splice site leads to a female-specific increase in unspliced RNA. These results are consistent with a model in which female-specific factors block the function of the non-sex-specific 3' splice site.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Introns
  • Male
  • RNA Splicing*
  • Ribonucleases
  • Sex Differentiation*


  • Ribonucleases