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Segmentation of the hindbrain and branchial region is a conserved feature of head development, involving the nested expression of Hox genes. Although it is presumed that vertebrateHox genes function as segment identifiers, responsible for mediating registration between elements of diverse embryonic origin, this assumption has remained untested. To assess this, retroviral misexpression was combined with orthotopic grafting in chick embryos to generate a mismatch in Hox coding between a specific rhombomere and its corresponding branchial arch. Rhombomere-restricted misexpression of a single gene, Hoxb1, resulted in the homeotic transformation of the rhombomere, revealed by reorganization of motor axon projections.
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