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Genomics. 2002 Mar;79(3):333-43.

Novel paralogy relations among human chromosomes support a link between the phylogeny of doublesex-related genes and the evolution of sex determination.

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Immunogénétique Humaine, INSERM E0021, Institut Pasteur, 25 rue du Dr Roux, Paris Cedex 15, 75724, France.


Recent advances in the evolutionary genetics of sex determination indicate that DMRT1 may be a vertebrate equivalent of the Drosophila melanogaster master sex regulator gene, doublesex. The role of DMRT1 seems to be confined to some aspects of male sex differentiation, whereas in Drosophila, doublesex has wider developmental effects in both sexes. This suggests other homologs of doublesex may exist in the vertebrate genome and encode sex-specific functions not displayed by DMRT1. We identified and characterized five novel human DM genes, distinct from previously described family members. Human DM genes map to three well-defined regions of chromosomes 1, 9, and 19 (one gene on chromosome 19 having an additional homolog on chromosome X). We collated data indicating these chromosomal regions harbor multiple syntenic genes sharing highly specific paralogy relations, suggesting that they arose early during vertebrate evolution. The 9p21-p24.3 bands represent the ancestral copy and harbor closely linked DM genes that may reflect the overall diversity of the fruit fly DM gene family. The human genome contains a small number of potential doublesex homologs that may be involved in human sexual development. Identifying highly conserved chromosomal regions, such as distal 9p, is an important tool to trace complex ancient evolutionary processes inaccessible by other approaches.

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