Classification; Dictyostelium; expression; homeobox
Homeobox genes are compared between genomes in an attempt to understand the evolution of animal development. The ability of the protist, Dictyostelium discoideum, to shift between uni- and multicellularity makes this group ideal for studying the genetic changes that may have occurred during this transition. We present here the first genome-wide classification and comparative genomic analysis of the 14 homeobox genes present in D. discoideum. Based on the structural alignment of the homeodomains, they can be broadly divided into TALE and non-TALE classes. When individual homeobox genes were compared with members of known class or family, we could further classify them into 3 groups, namely, TALE, OTHER and NOVEL classes, but no HOX family was found. The 5 members of TALE class could be further divided into PBX, PKNOX, IRX and CUP families; 4 homeobox genes classified as NOVEL did not show any similarity to any known homeobox genes; while the remaining 5 were classified as OTHERS as they did show certain degree of similarity to few known homeobox genes. No unique RNA expression pattern during development of D. discoideum emerged for members of an individual group. Putative promoter analysis revealed binding sites for few homeobox transcription factors among many probable factors.