PerspectiveDevelopmental Biology

Deserts and Waves in Gene Expression

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Science  07 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6137, pp. 1181-1182
DOI: 10.1126/science.1239867

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The homeotic genes, or Hox genes, encode transcription factors that are situated in tight clusters within the genome of broadly divergent taxa. In invertebrates and vertebrates, Hox genes specify differences along the anteroposterior body axis in the same order as their physical order in the cluster (13), but in the latter, this collinearity has also been co-opted for constructing secondary body axes such as the limb (4). On page 1195 in this issue, Andrey et al. (5) elucidate the complex regulatory mechanisms responsible for the collinearity of Hox genes in patterning such secondary axes.