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The Sex Determination Cascade in the Silkworm

by 1,2, 1,2, 1, 1,2 and 1,*
Key Laboratory of Insect Developmental and Evolutionary Biology, Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences, Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Artyom Kopp and Giuseppe Saccone
Received: 17 November 2020 / Revised: 5 February 2021 / Accepted: 9 February 2021 / Published: 23 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Evolution of Sexual Development in Arthropods)
In insects, sex determination pathways involve three levels of master regulators: primary signals, which determine the sex; executors, which control sex-specific differentiation of tissues and organs; and transducers, which link the primary signals to the executors. The primary signals differ widely among insect species. In Diptera alone, several unrelated primary sex determiners have been identified. However, the doublesex (dsx) gene is highly conserved as the executor component across multiple insect orders. The transducer level shows an intermediate level of conservation. In many, but not all examined insects, a key transducer role is performed by transformer (tra), which controls sex-specific splicing of dsx. In Lepidoptera, studies of sex determination have focused on the lepidopteran model species Bombyx mori (the silkworm). In B. mori, the primary signal of sex determination cascade starts from Fem, a female-specific PIWI-interacting RNA, and its targeting gene Masc, which is apparently specific to and conserved among Lepidoptera. Tra has not been found in Lepidoptera. Instead, the B. mori PSI protein binds directly to dsx pre-mRNA and regulates its alternative splicing to produce male- and female-specific transcripts. Despite this basic understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying sex determination, the links among the primary signals, transducers and executors remain largely unknown in Lepidoptera. In this review, we focus on the latest findings regarding the functions and working mechanisms of genes involved in feminization and masculinization in Lepidoptera and discuss directions for future research of sex determination in the silkworm. View Full-Text
Keywords: sex determination; cascade; Lepidoptera insects; silkworm sex determination; cascade; Lepidoptera insects; silkworm
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MDPI and ACS Style

Yang, X.; Chen, K.; Wang, Y.; Yang, D.; Huang, Y. The Sex Determination Cascade in the Silkworm. Genes 2021, 12, 315.

AMA Style

Yang X, Chen K, Wang Y, Yang D, Huang Y. The Sex Determination Cascade in the Silkworm. Genes. 2021; 12(2):315.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Yang, Xu, Kai Chen, Yaohui Wang, Dehong Yang, and Yongping Huang. 2021. "The Sex Determination Cascade in the Silkworm" Genes 12, no. 2: 315.

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