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A major modification to the sterile insect technique is described, in which transgenic insects homozygous for a dominant, repressible, female-specific lethal gene system are used. We demonstrate two methods that give the required genetic characteristics in an otherwise wild-type genetic background. The first system uses a sex-specific promoter or enhancer to drive the expression of a repressible transcription factor, which in turn controls the expression of a toxic gene product. The second system uses non-sex-specific expression of the repressible transcription factor to regulate a selectively lethal gene product. Both methods work efficiently in Drosophila melanogaster, and we expect these principles to be widely applicable to more economically important organisms.

Original publication




Journal article


Science (New York, N.Y.)

Publication Date





2474 - 2476


Department of Zoology, Wellcome Trust Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Disease, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.


Fat Body, Animals, Animals, Genetically Modified, Drosophila melanogaster, Tetracycline, DNA-Binding Proteins, Trans-Activators, Egg Proteins, Drosophila Proteins, Nuclear Proteins, Transcription Factors, Crosses, Genetic, Pest Control, Biological, Gene Expression Regulation, Homozygote, Genes, Dominant, Genes, Insect, Genes, Lethal, Genes, ras, Models, Biological, Female, Male, Enhancer Elements, Genetic, Promoter Regions, Genetic