A molecular analysis of transformer, a gene in Drosophila melanogaster that controls female sexual differentiation

Cell. 1987 Feb 13;48(3):489-99. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(87)90199-1.


The transformer (tra) gene regulates all aspects of somatic sexual differentiation in Drosophila melanogaster females and has no function in males. We have isolated the tra gene as part of a 200 kb chromosomal walk. The 25 kb region around tra contains four genetically identified complementation groups and at least six transcriptional units. Germ-line transformation experiments indicate that a fragment of 2 kb is sufficient to supply tra+ function. Mapping of cDNAs from tra and from the adjacent genes indicates that the tra+ transcription unit is 1.2 kb or less. This transcription unit gives rise to a 1.0 kb RNA that is female-specific and a 1.2 kb RNA that is present in both sexes. tra+ and the gene at the 3' side overlap slightly in the 3' ends of their RNA coding sequences. These results suggest that tra+ function is regulated at the level of production of the female-specific tra RNA. The fact that a tra transcript is found in males raises interesting possibilities for how tra expression is controlled.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes*
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Male
  • Sex Differentiation*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transformation, Genetic