Molecular population genetics of sex determination genes: The transformer gene of Drosophila melanogaster

C. S. Walthour, S. W. Schaeffer

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19 Scopus citations


The transformer locus (tra) produces an RNA processing protein that alternatively splices the doublesex pre-mRNA in the sex determination hierarchy of Drosophila melanogaster. Comparisons of the tra coding region among Drosophila species have revealed an unusually high degree of divergence in synonymous and nonsynonymous sites. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the tra gene will be polymorphic in synonymous and nonsynonymous sites within species by investigating nucleotide sequence variation in eleven tra alleles within D. melanogaster. Of the 1063 nucleotides examined, two synonymous sites were polymorphic and no amino acid variation was detected. Three statistical tests were used to detect departures from an equilibrium neutral model. Two tests failed to reject a neutral model of molecular evolution because of low statistical power associated with low levels of genetic variation (Tajima/Fu and Li). The Hudson, Kreitman, and Aguade test rejected a neutral model when the tra region was compared to the 5'-flanking region of alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh). The lack of variability in the tra gene is consistent with a recent selective sweep of a beneficial allele in or near the tra locus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1367-1372
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics


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