The family has been related to a number of developmental features. The family seems to be well preserved across species.
Known members of the family include Dlx1 to Dlx7. They form bigene clusters with each other. There are Dlx1-Dlx2, Dlx5-Dlx6 and Dlx3-Dlx7 clusters in vertebrates. Each of those are linked to a specific Hox-gene cluster. In higher fishes, like zebrafish, there are a couple of additional dlx-genes, dlx5 and dlx8. In zebrafish the orthologous genes to vertebrate Dlx5-Dlx6 are dlx4 and dlx6, which form a bigene cluster in zebrafish. These additional genes are not linked with each other, or any other dlx-gene.
Dlx4, Dlx7, Dlx8 and Dlx9 are the same gene in vertebrates. They're named differently, because every time the same gene was found, the researchers thought they had found a new gene.
Dlx genes are required for the tangential migration of interneurons from the subpallium to the pallium during vertebrate brain development . It has been suggested that Dlx promotes the migration of interneurons by repressing a set of proteins that are normally expressed in terminally differentiated neurons and act to promote the outgrowth of dendrites and axons . Mice lacking Dlx1 exhibit electrophysiological and histological evidence consistent with delayed-onset epilepsy .
Dlx5/6 expression is necessary for normal lower jaw patterning in vertebrates .
Dlx7 is expressed in bone marrow.