The jumonji (jmj) gene was identified by a mouse gene trap approach and has essential roles in the development of multiple tissues. The Jmj protein has a DNA binding domain, ARID, and two conserved jmj domains (jmjN and jmjC). In many diverse species including bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals, there are many jumonji family proteins that have only the jmjC domain or both jmj domains. Recently, Jmj protein was found to be a transcriptional repressor. Several proteins in the jumonji family are involved in transcriptional repression and/or chromatin regulation. Most recently, one of the human members has been shown to be a histone demethylase, and the jmjC domain is essential for the demethylase activity. Meanwhile, more and more evidence indicating that the jumonji family proteins play important roles during development is accumulating. Many proteins in the jumonji family may regulate chromatin and gene expression, and control development through various signaling pathways. Here, we highlight the roles of jmj and jumonji family proteins in chromatin regulation and development.
Copyright 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.