Disruption of sex-specific doublesex exons results in male- and female-specific defects in the black cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon

Xien Chen, Yanghui Cao, Shuai Zhan, Anjiang Tan, Subba Reddy Palli, Yongping Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Doublesex (dsx), the downstream gene in the insect sex-determination pathway, is a key regulator of sexually dimorphic development and behavior across a variety of insects. Manipulating expression of dsx could be useful in the genetic control of insects. However, information on the sex-specific function of dsx in non-model insects is lacking. RESULTS: In this work, we isolated a dsx homolog, which is alternatively spliced into six female-specific and one male-specific isoforms, from an important agricultural pest, the black cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon. Studies on the expression of sex-specific Aidsx mRNA during embryonic development showed that the sixth hour post oviposition is the key stage for sex determination in A. ipsilon. Functional analysis of Aidsx was conducted using a CRISPR/Cas9 system targeting female- and male-specific Aidsx exons. Disruptions of sex-specific Aidsx exons resulted in sex-specific, sexually dimorphic defects in external genitals, gonads and antennae, and expression of sex-specific genes as well as production of offspring in both sexes. CONCLUSION: Our results not only demonstrate that dsx is a key player determining A. ipsilon sexually dimorphic traits, but also provide a potential method for the genetic control of this pest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1697-1706
Number of pages10
JournalPest Management Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Jeffrey L. Howell for proofreading the manuscript. This research was funded by the National Basic Research Program of China (2015CB755703), the National Science Foundation of China (31501648, 31601900 and 31420103918) and the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB11010600).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Society of Chemical Industry


  • CRISPR/Cas9
  • antennae
  • doublesex
  • genetic pest control
  • gonads

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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