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Identification of conserved C2H2 zinc-finger gene families in the Bilateria.



Identification of orthologous relationships between genes from widely divergent taxa allows partial reconstruction of the gene complement of ancestral genomes. C2H2 zinc-finger genes are one of the largest and most complex gene superfamilies in metazoan genomes, with hundreds of members in the human genome. Here we analyze C2H2 zinc-finger genes from three taxa - Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans and human - from which near-complete genome sequence data are available.


Our analyses conclusively identify 39 families of genes, of which 38 can be defined as orthology groups in that they are descended from single ancestral genes in the common ancestor of Drosophila, C. elegans and humans.


On the basis of current metazoan phylogeny, these 39 groups represent the minimum complement of C2H2 zinc-finger genes present in the genome of the bilaterian common ancestor.

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