Sex-linked transcription factor involved in a shift of sex-pheromone preference in the silkmoth Bombyx mori

Tsuguru Fujii, Takeshi Fujii, Shigehiro Namiki, Hiroaki Abe, Takeshi Sakurai, Akio Ohnuma, Ryohei Kanzaki, Susumu Katsuma, Yukio Ishikawa, Toru Shimadaa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


In the sex-pheromone communication systems of moths, odorant receptor (Or) specificity as well as higher olfactory information processing in males should be finely tuned to the pheromone of conspecific females. Accordingly, male sex-pheromone preference should have diversified along with the diversification of female sex pheromones; however, the genetic mechanisms that facilitated the diversification of male preference are not well understood. Here, we explored the mechanisms involved in a drastic shift in sex-pheromone preference in the silkmoth Bombyx mori using spli mutants in which the genomic structure of the gene Bmacj6, which encodes a class IV POU domain transcription factor, is disrupted or its expression is repressed. B. mori females secrete an ∼11:1 mixture of bombykol and bombykal. Bombykol alone elicits full male courtship behavior, whereas bombykal alone shows no apparent activity. In the spli mutants, the behavioral responsiveness of males to bombykol was markedly reduced, whereas bombykal alone evoked full courtship behavior. The reduced response of spli males to bombykol was explained by the paucity of bombykol receptors on the male antennae. It was also found that, in the spli males, neurons projecting into the toroid, a compartment in the brain where bombykol receptor neurons normally project, responded strongly to bombykal. The present study highlights a POU domain transcription factor, Bmacj6, which may have caused a shift of sex-pheromone preference in B. mori through Or gene choice and/or axon targeting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18038-18043
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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