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Mech Dev. 1999 May;83(1-2):127-39.

Six class homeobox genes in drosophila belong to three distinct families and are involved in head development.

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, HIB-Biobuilding, N-5020, Bergen, Norway.


The vertebrate Six genes are homologues of the Drosophila homeobox gene sine oculis (so), which is essential for development of the entire visual system. Here we describe two new Six genes in Drosophila, D-Six3 and D-Six4, which encode proteins with strongest similarity to vertebrate Six3 and Six4, respectively. In addition, we report the partial sequences of 12 Six gene homologues from several lower vertebrates and show that the class of Six proteins can be subdivided into three major families, each including one Drosophila member. Similar to so, both D-Six3 and D-Six4 are initially expressed at the blastoderm stage in narrow regions of the prospective head and during later stages in specific groups of head midline neurectodermal cells. D-Six3 may also be essential for development of the clypeolabrum and several head sensory organs. Thus, the major function of the ancestral Six gene probably involved specification of neural structures in the cephalic region.

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