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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®

DN gene family

Reviewed August 2010

What are the DN genes?

Genes in the DN gene family provide instructions for making proteins that group together to form a complex called dynein. Dynein is found within cell structures called cilia, which are microscopic, finger-like projections that stick out from the surface of cells. Coordinated back and forth movement of cilia can move the cell or the fluid surrounding the cell. Dynein produces the force needed for cilia to move.

Dynein is found within the core of cilia (the axoneme). The axoneme is supported by rigid, hollow fibers called microtubules, which are linked together to form a circle. The dynein molecules are part of structures called inner dynein arms (IDAs) that are attached to the inside of this circle and structures called outer dynein arms (ODA) that are attached to the outside of this circle. Coordinated movement of the dynein arms causes the microtubules to slide against each other, which makes the entire axoneme bend. The protein components (subunits) that make up the dynein arms are classified by their weight as heavy, intermediate, or light chains. Each subunit is produced from a different gene, and ODAs have a different combination of subunits than IDAs.

Researchers have identified at least 18 genes in the DN gene family. Mutations in several of these genes have been found to cause primary ciliary dyskinesia, a disorder caused by impaired movement of cilia.

Which genes are included in the DN gene family?

The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) provides an index of gene families ( and their member genes.

Genetics Home Reference summarizes the normal function and health implications of these members of the DN gene family: DNAH5 and DNAI1.

What conditions are related to genes in the DN gene family?

Genetics Home Reference includes these conditions related to genes in the DN gene family:

  • heterotaxy syndrome
  • primary ciliary dyskinesia

Where can I find additional information about the DN gene family?

You may find the following resources about the DN gene family helpful.

  • Molecular Cell Biology (fourth edition, 2000): Cilia and Flagella: Structure and Movement (

What glossary definitions help with understanding the DN gene family?

axoneme ; cell ; dyskinesia ; gene ; protein ; subunit

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.


These sources were used to develop the Genetics Home Reference summary for the DN gene family.

  • Milisav I. Dynein and dynein-related genes. Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1998;39(4):261-72. Review. (
  • Asai DJ, Wilkes DE. The dynein heavy chain family. J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2004 Jan-Feb;51(1):23-9. Review. (
  • Lindemann CB, Lesich KA. Flagellar and ciliary beating: the proven and the possible. J Cell Sci. 2010 Feb 15;123(Pt 4):519-28. doi: 10.1242/jcs.051326. Review. (
  • Ueno H, Yasunaga T, Shingyoji C, Hirose K. Dynein pulls microtubules without rotating its stalk. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 16;105(50):19702-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0808194105. Epub 2008 Dec 8. (
  • Carter AP, Vale RD. Communication between the AAA+ ring and microtubule-binding domain of dynein. Biochem Cell Biol. 2010 Feb;88(1):15-21. doi: 10.1139/o09-127. Review. (


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Reviewed: August 2010
Published: February 1, 2016