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Nature. 1999 Nov 11;402(6758):141-6.

A protein kinase encoded by the t complex responder gene causes non-mendelian inheritance.

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Max-Planck-Institute of Immunobiology, Freiburg, Germany.


Males heterozygous for the t-haplotype form of mouse chromosome 17 preferentially transmit the t-chromosome to their progeny. Several distorter/sterility loci carried on the t-haplotype together impair flagellar function in all spermatozoa whereas the responder, Tcr, rescues t-sperm but not wild-type sperm. Thus, t-sperm have an advantage over wild-type sperm in fertilizing egg cells. We have isolated Tcr by positional cloning and show that it is a member of a novel protein kinase gene family, designated Smok, which is expressed late during spermiogenesis. Smok kinases are components of a signal cascade which may control sperm motility. Tcr has a reduced kinase activity, which may allow it to counterbalance a signalling impairment caused by the distorter/sterility loci. Tcr transgene constructs cause non-mendelian transmission of chromosomes on which they are carried, which leads to sex-ratio distortion when Tcr cosegregates with the Y chromosome.

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