Mating-responsive genes in reproductive tissues of female Drosophila melanogaster

Paul D. Mack, Anat Kapelnikov, Yael Heifetz*, Michael Bender

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Male-derived accessory gland proteins that are transferred to females during mating have profound effects on female reproductive physiology including increased ovulation, mating inhibition, and effects on sperm utilization and storage. The extreme rates of evolution seen in accessory gland proteins may be driven by sperm competition and sexual conflict, processes that may ultimately drive complex interactions between female- and male-derived molecules and sperm. However, little is known of how gene expression in female reproductive tissues changes in response to the presence of male molecules and sperm. To characterize this response, we conducted parallel genomic and proteomic analyses of gene expression in the reproductive tract of 3-day-old unmated and mated female Drosophila melanogaster. Using DNA microarrays, we identified 539 transcripts that are differentially expressed in unmated vs. mated females and revealed a striking peak in differential expression at 6 h postmating and a marked shift from primarily down-regulated to primarily up-regulated transcripts within 3 h after mating. Combining two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry analyses, we identified 84 differentially expressed proteins at 3 h postmating, including proteins that appeared to undergo posttranslational modification. Together, our observations define transcriptional and translational response to mating within the female reproductive tract and suggest a bimodal model of postmating gene expression initially correlated with mating and the final stages of female reproductive tract maturation and later with the declining presence of male reproductive molecules and with sperm maintenance and utilization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)10358-10363
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number27
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2006


  • Accessory gland proteins
  • Reproduction
  • Reproductive tract
  • Sexual conflict
  • Sperm


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