A protein encoded by a member of the multicopy Ssty gene family located on the long arm of the mouse Y chromosome is expressed during sperm development

Touré, Aminata and Grigoriev, Vladimir and Mahadevaiah, Shantha K and Rattigan, Aine and Ojarikre, Obah A and Burgoyne, Paul S


Multicopy Y-chromosomal genes in human and mouse have been postulated to play a role in spermatogenesis. The mouse Y long arm (Yq) carries hundreds of supposedly intronless copies of Ssty, for which no protein has hitherto been identified; mice lacking Yq are sterile with grossly abnormal sperm. We have now identified an Ssty-encoded protein (Ssty1) that is expressed in spermatids. The protein is absent from spermatids of mice that lack Yq, but is not reduced in mice with a two-thirds reduction of Ssty copies, implying that most do not produce this protein. Furthermore, no protein was produced by a strongly transcribed intronless Ssty transgene, raising doubts as to the protein-encoding potential of these intronless genes. We have now identified an intron-containing copy that is also present in multiple copies on Yq. One or more intron-containing copies are retained in the Ssty-deficient mice and may be the source of the Ssty1 protein.