Basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor gene family phylogenetics and nomenclature

Differentiation. 2010 Jul;80(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.diff.2010.02.003. Epub 2010 Mar 10.


A phylogenetic analysis of the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) gene superfamily was performed using seven different species (human, mouse, rat, worm, fly, yeast, and plant Arabidopsis) and involving over 600 bHLH genes (Stevens et al., 2008). All bHLH genes were identified in the genomes of the various species, including expressed sequence tags, and the entire coding sequence was used in the analysis. Nearly 15% of the gene family has been updated or added since the original publication. A super-tree involving six clades and all structural relationships was established and is now presented for four of the species. The wealth of functional data available for members of the bHLH gene superfamily provides us with the opportunity to use this exhaustive phylogenetic tree to predict potential functions of uncharacterized members of the family. This phylogenetic and genomic analysis of the bHLH gene family has revealed unique elements of the evolution and functional relationships of the different genes in the bHLH gene family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Multigene Family*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Rats
  • Saccharomyces / genetics
  • Terminology as Topic*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors