The DM domain gene family encodes putative transcription factors related to the sexual regulators Doublesex from Drosophila melanogaster and MAB-3 from Caenorhabditis elegans. While some DM domain proteins are involved in sexual development in very distant metazoan phyla and one in somite development, the function of the great majority of them remains unclear. DM domain genes underwent frequent independent events of gene duplication during the course of evolution and the number of DM domain genes differs between phyla. Variation is even observed within the vertebrate lineage, where some genes present in mammals are absent from fish and vice versa. Of particular interest is the very recent duplication of the DM domain gene dmrt1 that apparently led to the formation of the master male-determining gene in the medaka fish but not in more divergent fish species. Hence, the DM domain gene family undergoes an important evolutionary turnover probably associated in some cases with novel expression patterns and possibly with new functions. Here we examine the current classification of vertebrate DM domain dmrt genes based on structural features, and propose a simpler nomenclature for dmrt genes.
- DM domain