Two Conserved Cysteine Residues Are Required for the Masculinizing Activity of the Silkworm Masc Protein [Gene Regulation]

September 4th, 2015 by Katsuma, S., Sugano, Y., Kiuchi, T., Shimada, T.

We have recently discovered that the Masculinizer (Masc) gene encodes a CCCH-tandem zinc finger (ZF) protein, which controls both masculinization and dosage compensation in the silkworm Bombyx mori. In this study, we attempted to identify functional regions or residues that are required for the masculinizing activity of the Masc protein. We constructed a series of plasmids that expressed the Masc derivatives and transfected them into a B. mori ovary-derived cell line, BmN-4. To assess the masculinizing activity of the Masc derivatives, we investigated the splicing patterns of B. mori doublesex (Bmdsx) and the expression levels of B. mori IGF-II mRNA-binding protein, a splicing regulator of Bmdsx, in Masc cDNA-transfected BmN-4 cells. We found that two ZF domains are not required for the masculinizing activity. We also identified that the C-terminal 288 amino acid residues are sufficient for the masculinizing activity of the Masc protein. Further detailed analyses revealed that two cysteine residues, 301-Cys and 304-Cys, in the highly conserved region among lepidopteran Masc proteins are essential for the masculinizing activity in BmN-4 cells. Finally, we showed that Masc is a nuclear protein, but its nuclear localization is not tightly associated with the masculinizing activity.