Doublesex (DSX) proteins are members of the Doublesex/mab-3-related (DMRT) protein family and play crucial roles in sex determination and differentiation among the animal kingdom. In the present study, we identified two Doublesex (Dsx)-like mRNA isoforms in the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana (Kellogg 1906), which are generated by the combination of alternative promoters, alternative splicing and alternative polyadenylation. The two transcripts exhibited sex-biased enrichment, which we termed AfrDsxM and AfrDsxF. They share a common region which encodes an identical N-terminal DNA-binding (DM) domain. RT-qPCR analyses showed that AfrDsxM is dominantly expressed in male Artemia while AfrDsxF is specifically expressed in females. Expression levels of both isoforms increased along with the developmental stages of their respective sexes. RNA interference with dsRNA showed that the knockdown of AfrDsxM in male larvae led to the appearance of female traits including an ovary-like structure in the original male reproductive system and an elevated expression of vitellogenin. However, silencing of AfrDsxF induced no clear phenotypic change in female Artemia. These results indicated that the male AfrDSXM may act as inhibiting regulator upon the default female developmental mode in Artemia. Furthermore, electrophoretic mobility shift assay analyses revealed that the unique DM domain of AfrDSXs can specifically bind to promoter segments of potential downstream target genes like AfrVtg. These data show that AfrDSXs play crucial roles in regulating sexual development in Artemia, and further provide insight into the evolution of sex determination/differentiation in sexual organisms.

You do not currently have access to this content.