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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2010 Dec;13(6):706-11. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2010.09.016. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Establishing an unusual cell type: how to make a dikaryon.

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Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI 53706, United States.


The dikaryons of basidiomycete fungi represent an unusual cell type required for complete sexual development. Dikaryon formation occurs via the activities of cell type-specific homeodomain transcription factors, which form regulatory complexes to establish the dikaryotic state. Decades of classical genetic and cell biological studies in mushrooms have provided a foundation for more recent molecular studies in the pathogenic species Ustilago maydis and Cryptococcus neoformans. Studies in these systems have revealed novel mechanisms of regulation that function downstream of classic homeodomain complexes to ensure that dikaryons are established and propagated. Comparisons of these dikaryon-specific networks promise to reveal the nature of regulatory network evolution and the adaptations responsible for driving complex eukaryotic development.

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