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A survey of ovary-, testis-, and soma-biased gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster adults

Michael Parisi1*, Rachel Nuttall2, Pamela Edwards1, James Minor2, Daniel Naiman3, Jining Lü1, Michael Doctolero2, Marina Vainer2, Cathy Chan2, James Malley4, Scott Eastman2 and Brian Oliver1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Cellular and Developmental Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

2 Incyte Genomics, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA

3 Department of Mathematical Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA

4 Center for Information Technology, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

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Genome Biology 2004, 5:R40  doi:10.1186/gb-2004-5-6-r40

Published: 1 June 2004



Sexual dimorphism results in the formation of two types of individuals with specialized reproductive roles and is most evident in the germ cells and gonads.


We have undertaken a global analysis of transcription between the sexes using a 31,464 element FlyGEM microarray to determine what fraction of the genome shows sex-biased expression, what tissues express these genes, the predicted functions of these genes, and where these genes map onto the genome. Females and males (both with and without gonads), dissected testis and ovary, females and males with genetically ablated germlines, and sex-transformed flies were sampled.


Using any of a number of criteria, we find extensive sex-biased expression in adults. The majority of cases of sex differential gene expression are attributable to the germ cells. There is also a large class of genes with soma-biased expression. There is little germline-biased expression indicating that nearly all genes with germline expression also show sex-bias. Monte Carlo simulations show that some genes with sex-biased expression are non-randomly distributed in the genome.