CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Mutagenesis of Sex-Specific Doublesex Splicing Variants Leads to Sterility in Spodoptera frugiperda, a Global Invasive Pest

Junwen Gu, Jingyi Wang, Honglun Bi, Xuehai Li, Austin Merchant, Porui Zhang, Qi Zhang, Xuguo Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith), an emerging invasive pest worldwide, has posed a serious agricultural threat to the newly invaded areas. Although somatic sex differentiation is fundamentally conserved among insects, the sex determination cascade in S. frugiperda is largely unknown. In this study, we cloned and functionally characterized Doublesex (dsx), a “molecular switch” modulating sexual dimorphism in S. frugiperda using male- and female-specific isoforms. Given that Lepidoptera is recalcitrant to RNAi, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated mutagenesis was employed to construct S. frugiperda mutants. Specifically, we designed target sites on exons 2, 4, and 5 to eliminate the common, female-specific, and male-specific regions of S. frugiperda dsx (Sfdsx), respectively. As expected, abnormal development of both the external and internal genitalia was observed during the pupal and adult stages. Interestingly, knocking out sex-specific dsx variants in S. frugiperda led to significantly reduced fecundity and fertility in adults of corresponding sex. Our combined results not only confirm the conserved function of dsx in S. frugiperda sex differentiation but also provide empirical evidence for dsx as a potential target for the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) to combat this globally invasive pest in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3557
JournalCells
Volume11
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

Keywords

  • CRISPR/Cas9 system
  • SIT
  • Spodoptera frugiperda
  • doublesex
  • invasive species
  • sex determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

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