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Arch Insect Biochem Physiol. 2010 Mar;73(3):119-27. doi: 10.1002/arch.20345.

Phenotypic interactions of spinster with the genes encoding proteins for cell death control in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Division of Neurogenetics, Tohoku University Graduate School of Life Sciences, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan.


The spin gene was first identified by its mutant phenotype, which is characterized by extremely strong mate refusal by females in response to male courtship in Drosophila. Spin mutants are also known to be accompanied by a remarkable reduction in programmed cell death in the reproductive and nervous systems. To better understand the molecular functions of spin, we searched for its genetic modifiers. Forced expression of spin(+) in somatic cells as driven by ptc-Gal4 in the testis resulted in the invasion of mature sperm into the anterior testes tip, which is otherwise occupied only by immature germ cells. To obtain genes that modulate spin's effect, the gain-of-function spin phenotype was observed in the presence of a chromosome harboring an EP or GS P-element insertion, which initiates transcription of the genomic sequence neighboring the insertion site. We isolated th and emc as suppressors of spin and atg8a as a gene that reproduces the spin phenotype on its own. th encodes Inhibitor of apoptosis-1, and mammalian Id genes homologous to emc are known to inhibit apoptosis. atg8a encodes a protein essential for autophagy. These results suggest that spin promotes cell death mechanisms that are regulated negatively by th and emc and positively by atg8a.

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