Maternal provision of non-sex-specific transformer messenger RNA in sex determination of the wasp Asobara tabida

Elzemiek Geuverink*, E.C. Verhulst, M. van Leussen, L. Zande, Leo W. Beukeboom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In many insect species maternal provision of sex-specifically spliced messenger RNA (mRNA) of sex determination genes is an essential component of the sex determination mechanism. In haplodiploid Hymenoptera, maternal provision in combination with genomic imprinting has been shown for the parasitoid Nasonia vitripennis, known as maternal effect genomic imprinting sex determination (MEGISD). Here, we characterize the sex determination cascade of Asobara tabida, another hymenopteran parasitoid. We show the presence of the conserved sex determination genes doublesex (dsx), transformer (tra) and transformer-2 (tra2) orthologues in As. tabida. Of these, At-dsx and At-tra are sex-specifically spliced, indicating a conserved function in sex determination. At-tra and At-tra2 mRNA is maternally provided to embryos but, in contrast to most studied insects, As. tabida females transmit a non-sex-specific splice form of At-tra mRNA to the eggs. In this respect, As. tabida sex determination differs from the MEGISD mechanism. How the paternal genome can induce female development in the absence of maternal provision of sex-specifically spliced mRNA remains an open question. Our study reports a hitherto unknown variant of maternal effect sex determination and accentuates the diversity of insect sex determination mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-109
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Volume27
Issue number1
Early online date2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Keywords

  • Doublesex
  • Hymenoptera
  • Maternal provision
  • Sex determination
  • Transformer
  • Transformer-2

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