The dare gene: Steroid hormone production, olfactory behavior, and neural degeneration in Drosophila

Marc R. Freeman, Anna Dobritsa, Peter Gaines, William A. Segraves, John R. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Steroid hormones mediate a wide variety of developmental and physiological events in insects, yet little is known about the genetics of insect steroid hormone biosynthesis. Here we describe the Drosophila dare gene, which encodes adrenodoxin reductase (AR). In mammals, AR plays a key role in the synthesis of all steroid hormones. Null mutants of dare undergo developmental arrest during the second larval instar or at the second larval molt, and dare mutants of intermediate severity are delayed in pupariation. These defects are rescued to a high degree by feeding mutant larvae the insect steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone. These data, together with the abundant expression of dare in the two principal steroid biosynthetic tissues, the ring gland and the ovary, argue strongly for a role of dare in steroid hormone production. dare is the first Drosophila gene shown to encode a defined component of the steroid hormone biosynthetic cascade and therefore provides a new tool for the analysis of steroid hormone function. We have explored its role in the adult nervous system and found two striking phenotypes not previously described in mutants affected in steroid hormone signaling. First, we show that mild reductions of dare expression cause abnormal behavioral responses to olfactory stimuli, indicating a requirement for dare in sensory behavior. Then we show that dare mutations of intermediate strength result in rapid, widespread degeneration of the adult nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4591-4602
Number of pages12
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior
  • Drosophila
  • Molting
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Olfaction
  • Steroid hormone
  • dare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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