Evidence for involvement of a transformer paralog in sex determination of the wasp Leptopilina clavipes

Elzemiek Geuverink, Ken Kraaijeveld, Marloes van Leussen, Fangying Chen, Jeroen Pijpe, Maarten H K Linskens, Leo W Beukeboom, Louis van de Zande

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Transformer (tra) is the central gear in many insect sex determination pathways and transduces a wide range of primary signals. Mediated by transformer-2 (tra2) it directs sexual development into the female or male mode. Duplications of tra have been detected in numerous Hymenoptera, but a function in sex determination has been confirmed only in Apis mellifera. We identified a tra2 ortholog (Lc-tra2), a tra ortholog (Lc-tra) and a tra paralog (Lc-traB) in the genome of Leptopilina clavipes (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae). We compared the sequence and structural conservation of these genes between sexual (arrhenotokous) and asexual all-female producing (thelytokous) individuals. Lc-tra is sex-specifically spliced in adults consistent with its orthologous function. The male-specific regions of Lc-tra are conserved in both reproductive modes. The paralog Lc-traB lacks the genomic region coding for male-specific exons and can only be translated into a full length TRA-like peptide sequence. Furthermore, unlike LC-TRA, the LC-TRAB inter-strain sequence variation is not differentiated into a sexual and an asexual haplotype. The LC-TRAB protein interacts with LC-TRA as well as LC-TRA2. This suggests that Lc-traB functions as a conserved element in sex determination of sexual and asexual individuals. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberimb.12522
Pages (from-to)780-795
Number of pages16
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Issue number6
Early online date24-Jul-2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2018

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