KLF/SP transcription factor family evolution: Expansion, diversification, and innovation in eukaryotes

Jason S. Presnell, Christine E. Schnitzler, William E. Browne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The Krü ppel-like factor and specificity protein (KLF/SP) genes play key roles in critical biological processes including stem cell maintenance, cell proliferation, embryonic development, tissue differentiation, and metabolism and their dysregulation has been implicated in a number of human diseases and cancers. Although many KLF/SP genes have been characterized in a handful of bilaterian lineages, little is known about the KLF/SP gene family in nonbilaterians and virtually nothing is known outside the metazoans. Here, we analyze and discuss the origins and evolutionary history of the KLF/SP transcription factor family and associated transactivation/repression domains. We have identified and characterized the complete KLF/SP gene complement from the genomes of 48 species spanning the Eukarya. We have also examined the phylogenetic distribution of transactivation/repression domains associated with this gene family. We report that the origin of the KLF/SP gene family predates the divergence of the Metazoa. Furthermore, the expansion of the KLF/SP gene family is paralleled by diversification of transactivation domains via both acquisitions of pre-existing ancient domains as well as by the appearance of novel domains exclusive to this gene family and is strongly associated with the expansion of cell type complexity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2289-2309
Number of pages21
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • C2H2 zinc fingers
  • Domain architecture
  • Domain co-occurrence network
  • Domain evolution
  • Domain shuffling
  • Low-complexity regions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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