Home Cellular science Scientists discover gene involved in sexual conflict in fruit flies

Scientists discover gene involved in sexual conflict in fruit flies

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Sexual conflicts in fruit flies are governed by specifically wired neurons in the brain that have been identified by scientists at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Research uncovers a gene driving the development of these neurons and sheds new light on how certain behaviors, in this case sexual behaviors, are “hardwired” in the brain. It also shows how sexual conflicts drive the evolution of new species and offers a step towards understanding the evolutionary process at the molecular and cellular level.

Dr Matthias Soller, lead author of the article, explained: “Darwin’s theory of the origins of species is fundamental to evolutionary biology. But the molecular and cellular drivers of evolution remain a mystery. Co-author Dr Irmgard Haussmann of the University of Birmingham adds: “Even we humans are evolving: 100 years ago no one thought about our electronic world requiring our brains to adapt to tasks completely. new.

While this research offers a way to answer fundamental scientific questions, understanding the genetics of sexual behavior could also ultimately lead to new ways of controlling insect populations, for example in crop management or the spread of insect-borne diseases such as malaria.

In the study published in a BMC Biology “Neurons, Circuits and Behavior” collection, the researchers focused on a particular molecule, called a sexual peptide, which is transmitted from male Drosophila to female during mating. The sexual peptide is responsible for triggering the female’s post-mating behavior, for example by rejecting courting males and increasing the urge to lay eggs.

But sometimes the female has to resist these behaviors, for example if there is not enough food, or if there are environmental reasons not to lay eggs. The ability to do so relies on a genetic mutation that researchers were able to identify. This mutation affected the female’s response to the sex peptide, and after identifying the mutation, the researchers were able to identify the specific gene that is essential for regulating the female’s post-mating response.

Significantly, they found that the gene, called Nup54, was present in every cell. Rather than being a signaling molecule found in a few neurons, as the research team expected, the Nup54 protein is a component of every cell’s nuclear pore, the part of the cell that regulates which proteins are allowed to enter the nucleus and which messenger RNAs escape. of the nucleus for translation into protein.

“Nuclear pore genes are among the few genes that have been associated with the emergence of new species,” says Dr. Soller. “We believe it is likely that these changes, including brain wiring and a change in behavior, mark a very early stage of speciation, and therefore show one of the earliest cellular processes in the evolution of new species. . ”


Demanding female fruit flies breed anyway


More information:
Mohanakarthik P. Nallasivan et al, The 54-channel nuclear pore protein directs sexual differentiation and neuronal wiring of female reproductive behaviors in Drosophila, BMC Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1186 / s12915-021-01154-6

Provided by the University of Birmingham


Quote: Scientists discover gene involved in sexual conflict in fruit flies (2021, October 21) retrieved October 21, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-scientists-uncover-gene-involved- sexual.html

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