Selfish gene may undermine genome police

A subcellular life and death struggle

Healthy spermatids (maturing sperm) of a fly, left, are decimated in a setting dominated by a “segregation distorter,” right. A runaway snippet of code that rapidly copies itself helps target spermatids for fatal attacks. Credit: Reenan lab/Brown University

For a bunch of inanimate chemical compounds, the nucleic and amino acids caught up in the infamous “selfish” segregation distorter (SD) saga have put on quite a soap opera for biologists since the phenomenon was discovered in fruit flies 50 years ago. A new study, a highlight in the March issue of the journal Genetics, provides the latest plot twist.