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Sex lethal controls dosage compensation in Drosophila by a non-splicing mechanism


Dosage compensation in Drosophila requires the male-specific lethal (msl) proteins (MSL) to make gene expression from the single male X chromosome equivalent to that from both female X chromosomes1,2. Expression of msl 2 is repressed post-transcrip-tionally by Sex lethal (SXL), a female-specific RNA-binding protein that regulates alternative splicing in the sex-determination hierarchy. Although msl2 RNA is alternatively spliced in males and females, this does not alter its coding potential and splicing is not required for male-specific expression of MSL2 protein. Instead, our results suggest that the association of SXL protein with multiple sites in the 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions of the mx12 transcript represses its translation in females. Thus, this well characterized alternative splicing factor regulates at least one target transcript by a distinct mechanism.

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Kelley, R., Wang, J., Bell, L. et al. Sex lethal controls dosage compensation in Drosophila by a non-splicing mechanism. Nature 387, 195–199 (1997).

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