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Battle and ballet: molecular interactions between the sexes in Drosophila

, : Battle and ballet: molecular interactions between the sexes in Drosophila. Journal of Heredity 100(4): 399-410

Varied and fascinating interactions occur between males and females to lead to the production of progeny. Interactions between the sexes continue even after the act of mating-but at the molecular and cellular level instead of between individual animals. Molecules transferred from males to females during mating (via the seminal fluid) exert potent effects on females' physiology and (at least in some animals) on behavior. Taking advantage of genetic, genomic, and biochemical tools for Drosophila, we investigate molecular interactions that underlie this form of chemical communication. Recent data show that molecules and cells from both sexes participate in this "ballet," facilitating the mutually beneficial outcome of increased progeny production. Examples to be presented include the storage and utilization of sperm in the mated female, and a proteolytic pathway that begins in the male but ends in the female and involves both male and female contributions. Despite the joint benefit of increased progeny production, the "interests" of the mating male can differ from those of his mate. Over evolutionary time this disconnect can, in theory, precipitate a "battle" between the sexes, potentially leading to the rapid sequence changes that have been observed for some seminal proteins across species.


PMID: 19349638

DOI: 10.1093/jhered/esp013

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