Tetsuya Nojima is studying the molecular mechanisms underlying sexual differentiation of the neurons required for male courtship behavior in Drosophila.
The neural masculinization gene, fruitless (fru), is expressed in a subset of neurons in the male, but not female, central and peripheral nervous systems. fru encodes at least three BTB/Zn-finger transcription factors. Through the action of fru, along with another sex determination gene doublesex (dsx), the sexually dimorphic neural circuits are established, which underlie sexual differences in behavior. Although previous studies revealed the functions of some fru- and/or dsx-expressing neurons in male courtship, how fru specifies those neurons at the molecular level is still poorly understood. Tetsuya is trying to elucidate this question, by means of various genetic approaches.