Special Reviews

Genomic Evolution of Hox Gene Clusters

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Science  29 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5795, pp. 1918-1922
DOI: 10.1126/science.1132040

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The family of Hox genes, which number 4 to 48 per genome depending on the animal, control morphologies on the main body axis of nearly all metazoans. The conventional wisdom is that Hox genes are arranged in chromosomal clusters in colinear order with their expression patterns on the body axis. However, recent evidence has shown that Hox gene clusters are fragmented, reduced, or expanded in many animals—findings that correlate with interesting morphological changes in evolution. Hox gene clusters also contain many noncoding RNAs, such as intergenic regulatory transcripts and evolutionarily conserved microRNAs, some of whose developmental functions have recently been explored.

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