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Development in higher organisms involves complex genetic regulation at the molecular level. The emerging picture of development control includes several families of master regulatory genes which can affect the expression of down-stream target genes in developmental cascade pathways. One new family of such development regulators is the SOX gene family. The SOX genes are named for a shared motif called the SRY box a region homologous to the DNA-binding domain of SRY, the mammalian sex determining gene. Like SRY, SOX genes play important roles in chordate development. At least a dozen human SOX genes have been identified and partially characterized (Tables 1 and 2). Mutations in SOX9 have recently been linked to campomelic dysplasia and autosomal sex reversal, and other SOX genes may also be associated with human disease.