Control of X chromosome transcription by the maleless gene in Drosophila

Nature. 1980 Jun 19;285(5766):573-5. doi: 10.1038/285573a0.


In Drosophila, a large group of structural genes exhibit coordinate regulation, not because they function in a common developmental pathway but because they happen to reside on the X chromosome. These genes are subjected to the regulatory mechanism of dosage compensation which insures that their phenotypic products are identical in the sex with one and in the sex with two X chromosomes. This equilization of gene products is achieved by regulating the level of transcription of both X chromosomes in females and of the single X chromosome in males. We report here that, reasoning that sex-specific lethal mutations may represent lesions in the processes controlling the transcription of X-linked loci, we sought and recovered several male-specific lethal mutations and noted that they affect the levels of X-linked enzyme activities in crude extracts of homozygous male larvae. Autoradiographic monitoring of RNA synthesis in larval polytene chromosomes of males homozygous for one of these mutations, mlets, reveals a significant reduction in the rate of X chromosome transcription.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Drosophila / enzymology
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes, Lethal
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Sex Chromosomes / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • X Chromosome / physiology*