Prospects & Overviews
Both cell-autonomous mechanisms and hormones contribute to sexual development in vertebrates and insects
Article first published online: 26 JUN 2013
© 2013 The Authors. BioEssays published by WILEY Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 35, Issue 8, pages 725–732, August 2013
How to Cite
Bear, A. and Monteiro, A. (2013), Both cell-autonomous mechanisms and hormones contribute to sexual development in vertebrates and insects. Bioessays, 35: 725–732. doi: 10.1002/bies.201300009
- Issue published online: 15 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 26 JUN 2013
- NSF IOS. Grant Number: 1146933
- NSF DDIG. Grant Number: IOS-1110523
- sexual development;
- sexual dimorphism;
- sex hormones;
The differentiation of male and female characteristics in vertebrates and insects has long been thought to proceed via different mechanisms. Traditionally, vertebrate sexual development was thought to occur in two phases: a primary and a secondary phase, the primary phase involving the differentiation of the gonads, and the secondary phase involving the differentiation of other sexual traits via the influence of sex hormones secreted by the gonads. In contrast, insect sexual development was thought to depend exclusively on cell-autonomous expression of sex-specific genes. Recently, however, new evidence indicates that both vertebrates and insects rely on sex hormones as well as cell-autonomous mechanisms to develop sexual traits. Collectively, these new data challenge the traditional vertebrate definitions of primary and secondary sexual development, call for a redefinition of these terms, and indicate the need for research aimed at explaining the relative dependence on cell-autonomous versus hormonally guided sexual development in animals.