Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The molecules that regulate sexual behavior   posted by p-ter @ 1/02/2008 08:39:00 PM

Now, I'm no expert on Drosophila sex, but this paper caught my eye:
Mating in many species induces a dramatic switch in female reproductive behaviour. In most insects, this switch is triggered by factors present in the male's seminal fluid. How these factors exert such profound effects in females is unknown. Here we identify a receptor for the Drosophila melanogaster sex peptide (SP, also known as Acp70A), the primary trigger of post-mating responses in this species. Females that lack the sex peptide receptor (SPR, also known as CG16752), either entirely or only in the nervous system, fail to respond to SP and continue to show virgin behaviours even after mating. SPR is expressed in the female's reproductive tract and central nervous system. The behavioural functions of SPR map to the subset of neurons that also express the fruitless gene, a key determinant of sex-specific reproductive behaviour.
In light of previous discussions on the relationship between genetic screens and "big biology", it's notable that this gene was identified in a genome-wide screen for genes involved in female post-reproductive behavior by RNAi knockdown--one of the newer tools in the modern geneticist's toolkit.