Genetic and molecular characterization of sting, a gene involved in crystal formation and meiotic drive in the male germ line of Drosophila melanogaster

Schmidt, AP, G.; Bozzetti, M. P.; Tritto, P.; Pimpinelli, S.; Schafer, U.,  Genetics,  151:749-760. 1999.

The sting mutation, caused by a P element inserted into polytene region 32D, was isolated by a screen for male sterile insertions in Drosophila melanogaster. This sterility is correlated with the presence of crystals in spermatocytes and spermatids that are structurally indistinguishable from those produced in males carrying a deficiency of the Y-linked crystal (cry) locus. In addition, their morphology is needle-like in Ste(+) flies and star-shaped in Ste flies, once again as observed in cry(-) males. The sti mutation leads to meiotic drive of the sex chromosomes, and the strength of the phenomenon is correlated with the copy number of the repetitive Ste locus. The same correlation is also true for the penetrance of the male sterile mutation. A presumptive sti null allele results in male sterility and lethal maternal effect. The gene was cloned and shown to code for a putative protein that is 866 amino acids long. A C-terminal domain of 52 amino acids is identified that is well conserved in proteins from different organisms. The gene is expressed only in the germline of both sexes. The interaction of sting with the Ste locus can also be demonstrated at the molecular level. While an unprocessed 8-kb Ste primary transcript is expressed in wild-type males, in X/Y-homoozygous sti males, as in X/Y cry(-) males, a 0.7-kb mRNA is produced.