Various primary signals direct insect sex determination. In hymenopteran insects, the presence of a paternal genome is needed to initiate female development. When absent, uniparental haploid males develop. We molecularly and functionally identified the instructor sex-determination gene, wasp overruler of masculinization (wom), of the haplodiploid wasp Nasonia vitripennis This gene contains a P53-like domain coding region and arose by gene duplication and genomic rearrangements. Maternal silencing of wom results in male development of haploid embryos. Upon fertilization, early zygotic transcription from the paternal wom allele is initiated, followed by a timely zygotic expression of transformer (tra), leading to female development. Wom is an instructor gene with a parent-of-origin effect in sex determination.
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