miRNA-1-3p is an early embryonic male sex-determining factor in the Oriental fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis
Handler, Alfred M.
Tu, Zhijian Jake
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Regulation of male sexual differentiation by a Y chromosome-linked male determining factor (M-factor) is one of a diverse array of sex determination mechanisms found in insects. By deep sequencing of small RNAs from Bactrocera dorsalis early embryos, we identified an autosomal-derived microRNA, miR-1-3p, that has predicted target sites in the transformer gene (Bdtra) required for female sex determination. We further demonstrate by both in vitro and in vivo tests that miR-1-3p suppresses Bdtra expression. Injection of a miR-1-3p mimic in early embryos results in 87-92% phenotypic males, whereas knockdown of miR-1-3p by an inhibitor results in 67-77% phenotypic females. Finally, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of miR-1-3p results in the expression of female-specific splice variants of Bdtra and doublesex (Bddsx), and induced sex reversal of XY individuals into phenotypic females. These results indicate that miR-1-3p is required for male sex determination in early embryogenesis in B. dorsalis as an intermediate male determiner.