Evolution of sex-peptide in Drosophila
The Drosophila sex-peptide (SP) has been identified as a seminal fluid component that induces post-mating responses (PMRs) in the inseminated females, such as inhibition of remating and stimulation of egg-laying. SP has been thought to play a central role in sexual conflict and sexually antagonistic co-evolution. Most of the sequenced Drosophila genomes contain SP orthologs, but their functions have been poorly characterized. Recently, we have investigated cross-species activity of D. melanogaster SP by means of injection into virgin females of other species. Among 11 species examined, SP response was observed in 6 species belonging to the D. melanogaster species group only. These species females express SP receptor (SPR) in their oviducts at relatively high levels, which was visualized by using a GFP-tagged SP. Furthermore, females of this species group responded to their own SP orthologs. However, females of the species outside the group did not respond to their own SP orthologs, even though all of them were potent inducers of SP-response in D. melanogaster. Our results suggested that the SP/SPR-mediated PMR was established in the lineage of the D. melanogaster species group.