Publication Date



Joseph Coolon


Biology (BIOL)


English (United States)


Transcription is regulated by an interaction of transcriptional proteins, often called trans-regulatory elements, and non-coding regions of DNA, called cis-regulatory elements. These non-coding regions control transcription initiation and rates of transcription. Males and females often exhibit expression differences of individual genes throughout the genome. Alternative cis-regulatory alleles can have differing effects in males and females – sometimes a cis-regulatory variant of a given gene confers sexually dimorphic expression, whereas another cis-regulatory variant of the same gene generates no sex-specific expression. Less is known, however, about how interactions between alternative cis-regulatory variants and sexually dimorphic trans-regulatory environments vary for individual tissues. Here I analyze tissue-specific cis-by-sex effects on gene expression in the heads and reproductive tissues of Drosophila melanogaster flies, and find that the frequency of tissue-specific sexually dimorphic expression is an effective predictor of the frequency of tissue-specific cis-by-sex effects. As compared to the frequency of cis-by-sex effects in whole flies, head tissue displayed a lower frequency of these effects, while reproductive tissue showed a much higher prevalence of these effects. The results provide further examples of cis-by-sex effects on expression, and also demonstrate that the frequency of these effects varies across tissues. These data suggest that more attention should be given to cis-regulatory variants in driving evolution and sex-specific expression differences, and that environmental influences on gene expression, ranging from an organism’s genotype to temperature and even prescription medications taken by patients, could generate disparate consequences between the sexes.



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