Sexually dimorphic traits in the silkworm, Bombyx mori, are regulated by doublesex.
Xu J., Zhan S., Chen S., Zeng B., Li Z., James AA., Tan A., Huang Y.
The DM domain genes, doublesex (dsx) in insects, or their structural homologs, male abnormal 3 (mab-3) in nematodes and Dmrt1 (doublesex and mab-3-related transcription factor 1) in mammals, are downstream regulators of the sex determination pathway that control sexually dimorphic development. Despite the functional importance of dsx and its potential applications in sterile insect technologies (SITs), the mechanisms by which it controls sexually dimorphic traits and the subsequent developmental gene networks in insects are poorly understood. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that insect dsx genes have sex-specific alternative splicing isoforms, whereas other taxa do not. We exploited genome editing and transgenesis technologies to induce mutations in either the male-specific isoform (dsxM) or common region (dsxC) of dsx in the somatic tissues of the lepidopteran model insect Bombyx mori. Disruptions of gene function produced either male-specific sexually-dimorphic defects or intersexual phenotypes; these results differ from those observed in other insects, including Drosophila melanogaster. Our data provide insights into the divergence of the insect sex determination pathways related to the most conserved downstream component dsx.