It has been suggested that sexual identity in the germline depends upon the combination of a nonautonomous somatic signaling pathway and an autonomous X chromosome counting system. In the studies reported here, we have examined the role of the sexual differentiation genes transformer (tra) and doublesex (dsx) in regulating the activity of the somatic signaling pathway. We asked whether ectopic somatic expression of the female products of the tra and dsx genes could feminize the germline of XY animals. We find that Tra(F) is sufficient to feminize XY germ cells, shutting off the expression of male-specific markers and activating the expression of female-specific markers. Feminization of the germline depends upon the constitutively expressed transformer-2 (tra-2) gene, but does not seem to require a functional dsx gene. However, feminization of XY germ cells by Tra(F) can be blocked by the male form of the Dsx protein (Dsx(M)). Expression of the female form of dsx, Dsx(F), in XY animals also induced germline expression of female markers. Taken together with a previous analysis of the effects of mutations in tra, tra-2, and dsx on the feminization of XX germ cells in XX animals, our findings indicate that the somatic signaling pathway is redundant at the level tra and dsx. Finally, our studies call into question the idea that a cell-autonomous X chromosome counting system plays a central role in germline sex determination.
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|Published - Aug 29 2000
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