bag-of-marbles: A Drosophila gene required to initiate both male and female gametogenesis

Dennis M. McKearin, Allan C. Spradling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

250 Scopus citations


In Drosophila, male and female gametes begin development when a stem cell divides to produce a cyst precursor. Subsequently, four special divisions give rise to a cluster of 16 interconnected cystocytes that develop into a single egg or 64 sperm. We identified and characterized a gene, bag-of-marbles (bam), that disrupts cyst formation in both sexes. An apparent null mutation causes abnormal cysts to form containing an excess number of cells that cannot differentiate into gametes, bam function resides within a simple 2.2-kb transcription unit encoding a single 442-amino-acid protein that shows similarity to the product of the ovarian tumor gene. The specific expression of bam RNA within female cystoblasts suggested that it might be involved in the specific cell-cycle alterations that occur during cystocyte divisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2242-2251
Number of pages10
JournalGenes & development
Issue number12 B
StatePublished - Dec 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • bag-of-marbles
  • Cyst formation
  • Drosophila development
  • Gametogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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