The Triplo-lethal (Tpl) locus of Drosophila is the only known locus which is lethal when present in three copies rather than the normal two. After recovering a hybrid-dysgenesis-induced mutation of Tpl we used a rapid combination of transposon tagging, chromosome microdissection and PCR to clone the P element that had transposed into the Tpl region. That P element is located within the gene for a new and unique member of the RNA helicase family. This new helicase differs from all others known by having glycine-rich repeats at both the amino and carboxyl termini. Curiously, genetic analysis shows that the P element inserted into this gene is not responsible for the Tpl mutant phenotype. We present possible explanations for these findings.
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