Ekker, M., Akimenko, M.-A., Allende, M.L., Smith, R., Drouin, G., Langille, R.M., Weinberg, E.S., and Westerfield, M. (1997) Relationships among msx gene structure and function in zebrafish and other vertebrates. Mol. Biol. Evol.. 14:1008-1022.
The zebrafish genome contains at least five msx homeobox genes, msxA, msxB, msxC, msxD, and the newly isolated msxE. Although these genes share structural features common to all Msx genes, phylogenetic analyses of protein sequences indicate that the msx genes from zebrafish are not orthologous to the Msx1 and Msx2 genes of mammals, birds, and amphibians. The zebrafish msxB and msxC are more closely related to each other and to the mouse Msx3. Similarly, although the combinatorial expression of the zebrafish msx genes in the embryonic dorsal neuroectoderm, visceral arches, fins, and sensory organs suggests functional similarities with the Msx genes of other vertebrates, differences in the expression patterns preclude precise assignment of orthological relationships. Distinct duplication events may have given rise to the msx genes of modern fish and other vertebrate lineages whereas many aspects of msx gene functions during embryonic development have been preserved.