Various types of weapon traits found in insect order Coleoptera are known as outstanding examples of sexually selected exaggerated characters. It is known that the sex determination gene doublesex (dsx) plays a significant role in sex-specific expression of weapon traits in various beetles belonging to the superfamily Scarabaeoidea. Although sex-specific weapon traits have evolved independently in various Coleopteran groups, developmental mechanisms of sex-specific expression have not been studied outside of the Scarabaeoidea. In order to test the hypothesis that dsx-dependent sex-specific expression of weapon traits is a general mechanism among the Coleoptera, we have characterized the dsx in the sexually dimorphic broad-horned beetle Gnatocerus cornutus (Tenebrionidea, Tenebirionidae). By using molecular cloning, we identified five splicing variants of Gnatocerus cornutus dsx (Gcdsx), which are predicted to code four different isoforms. We found one male-specific variant (GcDsx-M), two female-specific variants (GcDsx-FL and GcDsx-FS) and two non-sex-specific variants (correspond to a single isoform, GcDsx-C). Knockdown of all Dsx isoforms resulted in intersex phenotype both in male and female. Also, knockdown of all female-specific isoforms transformed females to intersex phenotype, while did not affect male phenotype. Our results clearly illustrate the important function of Gcdsx in determining sex-specific trait expression in both sexes.
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