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Understanding how genes influence behavior, including sexuality, is one of biology's greatest challenges. Much of the recent progress in understanding how single genes can influence behavior has come from the study of innate behaviors in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In particular, the elaborate courtship ritual performed by the male fly has provided remarkable insights into how the neural circuitry underlying sexual behavior--which is largely innate in flies--is built into the nervous system during development, and how this circuitry functions in the adult. In this review we will discuss how genes of the sex determination pathway in Drosophila orchestrate the developmental events necessary for sex-specific behaviors and physiology, and the broader lessons this can teach us about the mechanisms underlying the development of sex-specific neural circuitry.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





R766 - R776


Animals, Biological Evolution, Brain, DNA-Binding Proteins, Drosophila Proteins, Drosophila melanogaster, Male, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Sex Determination Processes, Sexual Behavior, Animal, Transcription Factors