A group of US scientists managed to make a real breakthrough in genetic engineering. In the course of a long research of the scarab beetles DNA, they discovered a unique gene, the impact of which changes the gender of the embryo.
During the research, it became clear that the insect’s sexual development at the stage of embryo formation is influenced by a particular piece of DNA – DSX. Biologists identified it not so long ago, but only in the recent years, they have managed to establish that this gene directly affects a thousand other parts of the male genetic code and more than 250 of such in females.
A participant of the research, Cris Ledón-Rettig from Indiana University, says that DSX is fundamentally important for the formation of male and female sexual characteristics. It is responsible for the differentiation of female and masculine traits. In fact, this gene controls scarab’s bodies throughout their lives by activating and inhibiting certain parts of the genetic code.
Disabling this piece of DNA leads to very interesting results. For example, the sacred lepidopterans of both sexes grew medium size horns in the course of the experiment, although this feature is typical only of male species. Other insects displayed mixed sexual characteristics. Thus, the modification of DSX at the stage of embryo formation allows changing gender by turning a male into female.
Researchers believe that the presence of this section in the DNA chain is typical not only of scarabs but of other insects, as well. The gene may be present in most animals, birds and even humans. That is why American scientists plan to carry out similar tests on homo sapiens.