Control of male sexual behavior and sexual orientation in Drosophila by the fruitless gene

Cell. 1996 Dec 13;87(6):1079-89. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81802-4.


Sexual orientation and courtship behavior in Drosophila are regulated by fruitless (fru), the first gene in a branch of the sex-determination hierarchy functioning specifically in the central nervous system (CNS). The phenotypes of new fru mutants encompass nearly all aspects of male sexual behavior. Alternative splicing of fru transcripts produces sex-specific proteins belonging to the BTB-ZF family of transcriptional regulators. The sex-specific fru products are produced in only about 500 of the 10(5) neurons that comprise the CNS. The properties of neurons expressing these fru products suggest that fru specifies the fates or activities of neurons that carry out higher order control functions to elicit and coordinate the activities comprising male courtship behavior.

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

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Genes, Insect / physiology*
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA Splicing / physiology
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sex Differentiation / genetics*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics


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

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF039231
  • GENBANK/U72492