Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 1998 Feb 12;391(6668):691-5.

Evidence for evolutionary conservation of sex-determining genes.

Author information

Institute of Human Genetics, Department of Biochemistry, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis 55455, USA.


Most metazoans occur as two sexes. Surprisingly, molecular analyses have hitherto indicated that sex-determining mechanisms differ completely between phyla. Here we present evidence to the contrary. We have isolated the male sexual regulatory gene mab-3 from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and found that it is related to the Drosophila melanogaster sexual regulatory gene doublesex (dsx)2. Both genes encode proteins with a DNA-binding motif that we have named the 'DM domain'. Both genes control sex-specific neuroblast differentiation and yolk protein gene transcription; dsx controls other sexually dimorphic features as well. The form of DSX that is found in males can direct male-specific neuroblast differentiation in C. elegans. This structural and functional similarity between phyla suggests a common evolutionary origin of at least some aspects of sexual regulation. We have identified a human gene, DMT1, that encodes a protein with a DM domain and find that DMT1 is expressed only in testis. DMT1 maps to the distal short arm of chromosome 9, a location implicated in human XY sex reversal. Proteins with DM domains may therefore also regulate sexual development in mammals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center