The role of the transformer genes in the development of genitalia and analia of Drosophila melanogaster

Eric Wieschaus, Rolf Nöthiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The autosomal mutations transformer (tra) and transformer-2 (tra-2) of Drosophila convert chromosomal females ( X X) into phenotypical males. Our analysis aims at an understanding of the role which the transformer genes play in the development of the sexually dimorphic genital disc. In each Drosophila embryo, this disc starts development with a male and a female genital primordium, and an anal primordium. Our experiments involved the production of cell clones that were made homozygous for tra or tra-2 at different times of development. Homozygous clones were obtained by inducing mitotic recombination in three types of females heterozygous for tra or tra-2. The cells of the homozygous tra tra or tra-2 tra-2 clones responded by changing from the female into the male pathway. Male genital structures developed if the clones were induced not later than 81 hr into development. In the analia, male clones appeared up to 120 hr. Our results show that the action of the wild-type alleles of tra+ and tra-2+ is required until late in larval development to repress the male genital primordium and to support development of the female primordium, as well as to maintain the anal primordium in the female pathway. Our data also suggest that the embryonic genital disc consists of two compartments, one containing the precursors for penis and analia, the other those of the male and female genitalia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-334
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1982

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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