On the components of Segregation Distortion in Drosophila melanogaster 5: Molecular analysis of the SD locus

Powers, PAG, B.,  Genetics,  129:133-144. 1991.

Segregation Distorter (SD) is a naturally occurring meiotic drive system comprising at least three distinct loci: Sd, Rsp and E(SD). Heterozygous SD/SD+ males transmit the SD chromosome in vast excess over the normal homolog. The distorted transmission involves the induced dysfunction of the spermatids that receive the SD+ chromosome. In the 220-kb region of DNA that contains the Sd gene, we identified a 5-kb tandem duplication that is uniquely associated with all SD chromosomes, absent in SD+ chromosomes, and detectably altered in Sd revertants. On northern blots, genomic probes from the tandem duplication detect an SD-specific 4-kb transcript in addition to several smaller transcripts present in both SD and SD+. Seven classes of cDNAs derived from these transcripts have been isolated. All of these cDNAs share extensive sequence identity at their 3′ ends but differ at their 5′ ends. Sequence analysis indicates that these cDNAs potentially encode four distinct, but related, polypeptides. Introduction of the tandem duplication into SD+ flies by germline transformation did not confer the dominant gain-of-function Sd phenotype. This result, taken together with our analysis of the Sd cDNAs, suggests that the duplication is part of a much larger gene that encodes several different polypeptides.