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Xenopus is an important model animal for biomedicine researches. In order to probe into the classification and function of the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor family, we conducted a genome-wide survey and identified 70 bHLH transcription factors using the Xenopus tropicalis genome project data in the study. Among these transcription factors, 69 bHLH transcription factors were classified into 6 large groups composed of 34 sub-families and the remaining one was classified as 'orphan'. Results of Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment statistics showed 51 frequent GO annotation categories. Statistical analysis of the GO annotations showed that these 70 bHLH proteins tended to be frequently related to transcription regulator activity, regulation of transcription, DNA binding, regulation of RNA metabolic process, DNA-dependent regulation of transcription, transcription, and transcription factor activity, indicating that they were expected to be the most common GO categories of transcriptional factors. Moreover, a number of bHLH genes were revealed to play important regulation roles in special development and physiological processes, such as muscle tissue and organ (striated muscle, skeletal muscle, eye muscle, and pharyngeal muscle) differentiation and development, e.g., digestive system development, pharynx development and sensory organ development, regulation of nucleobase, nucleoside and nucleotide and nucleic acid metabolic process, regulation of biosynthetic process, DNA binding, and protein heterodimerization activity, etc. There were also some important signaling pathways in the significant GO categories. We made the evolutionary analysis of Hes transcription factor family as well. This preliminary result lays a solid foundation for further re-searches on X. tropicalis.


Wu-Yi Liu. Identification and evolutionary analysis of the Xenopus tropicalis bHLH transcription factors]. Yi chuan = Hereditas / Zhongguo yi chuan xue hui bian ji. 2012 Jan;34(1):59-71

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PMID: 22306874

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