The Drosophila dishevelled gene (dsh) encodes a secreted glycoprotein, which regulates cell proliferation, acting as a transducer molecule for developmental processes, including segmentation and neuroblast specification. We have isolated and characterized cDNA clones from two different human dsh-homologous genes, designated as DVL-1 and DVL-3, DVL-1 and DVL-3 putative protein products show 64% amino acid identity. The DVL-1 product is 50% identical to dsh and 92% to a murine dsh homologue (Dvl-1). Both human DVL genes are widely expressed in fetal and adult tissues, including brain, lung, kidney, skeletal muscle and heart. DVL-1 locus maps to chromosome 1p36 and DVL-3 to chromosome 3q27. DVL-1 locus on chromosome 1 corresponds to the murine syntenic region where Dvl-1 is located. DVL-1 and DVL-3 are members of a human dsh-like gene family, which is probably involved in human development. Although the precise role of these genes in embryogenesis is only conjectural at present, the structural and evolutionary characteristics suggest that mutations at their loci may be involved in neural and heart developmental defects.
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