Co-conservation of sequence and function is an important principle during evolution. As a consequence, sequence-related genes often have similar functions in evolutionarily distant species. Enter the 'glial cells missing' (gcm) genes. They code for a small family of novel transcription factors that share DNA-binding properties and domain structure. However, no evolutionarily conserved function is apparent as yet. The prototypical gcm from Drosophila dominates nervous system development as a fate switch and master regulator of gliogenesis, whereas mammalian gcm genes have roles in placental morphogenesis and development of the parathyroid gland. Apparently, structure and function sometimes can go separate ways.
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