Fruitless Represses robo1 Transcription to Shape Male-Specific Neural Morphology and Behavior in Drosophila

Curr Biol. 2016 Jun 20;26(12):1532-1542. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.067. Epub 2016 Jun 2.


The Drosophila fruitless (fru) gene is regarded as a master regulator of the formation of male courtship circuitry, yet little is known about its molecular basis of action. We show that roundabout 1 (robo1) knockdown in females promotes formation of the male-specific neurite in sexually dimorphic mAL interneurons and that overexpression of the male-specific Fru(BM) diminishes the expression of Robo1 in the fly brain. Our electrophoretic mobility shift and reporter assays identify the 42-bp segment encompassing the palindrome sequence T T C G C T G C G C C G T G A A in the 5' UTR of robo1 exon1 as the Fru(BM)-responsive element. We find that ∼10-bp deletions in the palindrome sequence induce a loss of the male-specific neurite and disrupt male courtship patterns. This study paves the way for a thorough understanding of the mechanism whereby Fru proteins orchestrate transcription for the formation of courtship circuitry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / growth & development
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Transcription Factors
  • fru protein, Drosophila
  • roundabout protein