Fungal sex genes—searching for the ancestors

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Abstract

The sex-determining genes of fungi reside at one or two specialised regions of the chromosome known as the mating type (MAT) loci. The genes are sufficient to determine haploid cell identity, enable compatible mating partners to attract each other, and prepare cells for sexual reproduction after fertilisation. How conserved are these genes in different fungal groups? New work1 seeks an answer to this question by identifying the sex-determining regions of an early diverged fungus. These regions bear remarkable similarity to those described in other fungi, but the sex proteins they encode belong to only a single class of transcription factor, the high mobility group (HMG), indicating that these are likely to be ancestral to other proteins recruited for fungal sex. BioEssays 30:711–714, 2008. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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