teiresias, a Fruitless target gene encoding an immunoglobulin-superfamily transmembrane protein, is required for neuronal feminization in Drosophila

Commun Biol. 2020 Oct 21;3(1):598. doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-01327-z.


This study aims at identifying transcriptional targets of FruitlessBM (FruBM), which represents the major isoform of male-specific FruM transcription factors that induce neural sexual dimorphisms. A promoter of the axon-guidance factor gene robo1 carries the 16-bp palindrome motif Pal1, to which FruM binds. Our genome-wide search for Pal1-homologous sequences yielded ~200 candidate genes. Among these, CG17716 potentially encodes a transmembrane protein with extracellular immunoglobulin (Ig)-like domains similar to Robo1. Indeed, FruBM overexpression reduced CG17716 mRNA and protein expression. In the fru-expressing mAL neuron cluster exhibiting sexual dimorphism, we found that CG17716 knockdown in female neurons completely transformed all neurites to the male-type. Conversely, CG17716 overexpression suppressed male-specific midline crossing of fru-expressing sensory axons. We renamed CG17716 teiresias (tei) based on this feminizing function. We hypothesize that Tei interacts with other Ig superfamily transmembrane proteins, including Robo1, to feminize the neurite patterns in females, whereas FruBM represses tei transcription in males.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Feminization / genetics*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Loci
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Immunologic / genetics*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


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