Six family transcription factors play important roles in craniofacial development. Their transcriptional activity can be modified by cofactor proteins. Two Six genes and one cofactor gene (Eya1) are involved in the human Branchio-otic (BO) and Branchio-otic-renal (BOR) syndromes. However, mutations in Six and Eya genes only account for approximately half of these patients. To discover potential new causative genes, we searched the Xenopus genome for orthologues of Drosophila cofactor proteins that interact with the fly Six-related factor, SO. We identified 33 Xenopus genes with high sequence identity to 20 of the 25 fly SO-interacting proteins. We provide the developmental expression patterns of the Xenopus orthologues for 11 of the fly genes, and demonstrate that all are expressed in developing craniofacial tissues with at least partial overlap with Six1/Six2. We speculate that these genes may function as Six-interacting partners with important roles in vertebrate craniofacial development and perhaps congenital syndromes.
© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.