Evolutionary genomics of the Fox genes: origin of gene families and the ancestry of gene clusters.
Shimeld SM., Degnan B., Luke GN.
Over the past decade genomic approaches have begun to revolutionise the study of animal diversity. In particular, genome sequencing programmes have spread beyond the traditional model species to encompass an increasing diversity of animals from many different phyla, as well as unicellular eukaryotes that are closely related to the animals. Whole genome sequences allow researchers to establish, with reasonable confidence, the full complement of any particular family of genes in a genome. Comparison of gene complements from appropriate genomes can reveal the evolutionary history of gene families, indicating when both gene diversification and gene loss have occurred. More than that, however, assembled genomes allow the genomic environment in which individual genes are found to be analysed and compared between species. This can reveal how gene diversification occurred. Here, we focus on the Fox genes, drawing from multiple animal genomes to develop an evolutionary framework explaining the timing and mechanism of origin of the diversity of animal Fox genes. Ancient linkages between genes are a prominent feature of the Fox genes, depicting a history of gene clusters, some of which may be relevant to understanding Fox gene function.