Wild-type function of four Drosophila genes, spermatocyte arrest, cannonball, always early and meiosis I arrest, is required both for cell-cycle progression through the G2/M transition of meiosis I in males and for onset of spermatid differentiation. In males mutant for any one of these meiotic arrest genes, mature primary spermatocytes with partially condensed chromosomes accumulate and postmeiotic cells are lacking. The arrest in cell-cycle progression occurs prior to degradation of cyclin A protein. The block in spermatogenesis in these mutants is not simply a secondary consequence of meiotic cell-cycle arrest, as spermatid differentiation proceeds in males mutant for the cell cycle activating phosphatase twine. Instead, the arrest of both meiosis and spermiogenesis suggests a control point that may serve to coordinate the male meiotic cell cycle with the spermatid differentiation program. The phenotype of the Drosophila meiotic arrest mutants is strikingly similar to the histopathological features of meiosis I maturation arrest infertility in human males, suggesting that the control point may be conserved from flies to man.

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