Information from this study could help lay the groundwork for therapies that address developmental missteps tied to Hox genes
and their regulators.
Our patient's strong family history is suggestive of a genetic abnormality, possibly the result of an aberration in the combinatorial expression pattern of the Hox genes
Although Hox genes
may function upstream of Pitxl, Six1 and Nkx3-1 after Gen treatment, the converse may also be true.
The structure of all these animals -- the distribution of their vertebrae, limbs and other appendices along their bodies -- is programmed like a sheet of player-piano music by the sequence of Hox genes
along the DNA strand.
Leckman's group is currently investigating possible effects of other Hox genes
Our genetic study suggested that Hox genes
act as modulators of a Turing-like mechanism, which was further supported by mathematical tests performed by our collaborators, Dr.
in evolution: protein surfaces and paralog groups.
The specific positions of the Hox genes
on the chromosome influence how these genes are expressed during embryonic development and ultimately how they affect the shape of the embryo.
Genes that regulate development like the Hox genes
are examples of genes whose activities are nested within a complex organic hierarchy.
Mice, it turns out, have 4 clusters of Hox genes
, which are laid out in the same head-to-tail way as they are in the fruit fly.
Cancer proteins fueled by HOX genes
(in particular one called HoxA9, which can be traced back to Drosophila fruit flies) result in an AML subtype with very poor prognosis for people.
The Hox genes
, key to early development and responsible for signaling where the brain, limbs or other body parts should form, are also absent in comb jellies and sponges.