Partial proteasomal degradation of Lola triggers the male-to-female switch of a dimorphic courtship circuit.


Neuro-Network Evolution Project, Advanced ICT Research Institute, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), 588-2 Iwaoka, Nishi-ku, Kobe, 651-2492, Japan. [Email]


In Drosophila, some neurons develop sex-specific neurites that contribute to dimorphic circuits for sex-specific behavior. As opposed to the idea that the sexual dichotomy in transcriptional profiles produced by a sex-specific factor underlies such sex differences, we discovered that the sex-specific cleavage confers the activity as a sexual-fate inducer on the pleiotropic transcription factor Longitudinals lacking (Lola). Surprisingly, Fruitless, another transcription factor with a master regulator role for courtship circuitry formation, directly binds to Lola to protect its cleavage in males. We also show that Lola cleavage involves E3 ubiquitin ligase Cullin1 and 26S proteasome. Our work adds a new dimension to the study of sex-specific behavior and its circuit basis by unveiling a mechanistic link between proteolysis and the sexually dimorphic patterning of circuits. Our findings may also provide new insights into potential causes of the sex-biased incidence of some neuropsychiatric diseases and inspire novel therapeutic approaches to such disorders.