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Pan-metazoan phylogeny of the DMRT gene family: a framework for functional studies

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The family of Doublesex-Mab-3 Related Transcription factors (DMRTs) includes key regulators of sexual differentiation and neurogenesis. To help understand the functional diversification of this gene family, we examined DMRT gene complements from the whole genome sequences and predicted gene models of 32 animal species representing 12 different phyla and from several non-metazoan outgroups. DMRTs are present in all animals except the sponge Amphimedon queenslandica, but are not found in any of the outgroups, indicating that this gene family is specific to animals and has an ancient pre-eumetazoan origin. Our analyses suggest that DMRT genes diversified independently in bilaterian and non-bilaterian animals. Most clades in the DMRT gene tree, including those containing the well-characterized DMRT1 and doublesex genes, have phylogenetically limited distributions.

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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01 GM082843 to A.K.); the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship (to D.P.); and the UC—Davis Population Biology Graduate Group (to J.W.). We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Judith R. Wexler.

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Communicated by: M. Q. Martindale

Judith R. Wexler and David C. Plachetzki contributed equally.

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Supplementary Figures

Summary of phylogenetic results, includes Figs. S1–S11 (PDF 429 kb)

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Wexler, J.R., Plachetzki, D.C. & Kopp, A. Pan-metazoan phylogeny of the DMRT gene family: a framework for functional studies. Dev Genes Evol 224, 175–181 (2014).

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