Study reveals mRNA's 'fifth nucleotide' role in determining sex in fruit flies

Drosophila - fruit fly

New paper revealing biological function of mRNA's 'fifth nucleotide' in alternative splicing of Drosophila sex determination gene.

A new paper from the Soller lab published in Nature shows that methyl marks on adenosines (m6A) of mRNA are required for robust alternative splicing of the Drosophila sex determination gene Sex lethal. This new study adds a new chapter to one of the classic textbook examples for alternative splicing regulation by revealing an essential role of this ‘fifth nucleotide’ of mRNA in adjusting gene expression. The dual role of Sex lethal in sex determination and dosage compensation further suggests a possible role of such mechanism in allowing for the diverse ways sex is determined in nature.

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Graphical abstract

Sex lethal alternative splicing defects lead to sexual transformations in m6A writer and reader mutants

soller-graphical-abstract-dec2016