Homeotic transformation of the occipital bones of the skull by ectopic expression of a homeobox gene

Nature. 1992 Oct 29;359(6398):835-41. doi: 10.1038/359835a0.


Murine Hox genes have been postulated to play a role in patterning of the embryonic body plan. Gene disruption studies have suggested that for a given Hox complex, patterning of cell identity along the antero-posterior axis is directed by the more 'posterior' (having a more posterior rostral boundary of expression) Hox proteins expressed in a given cell. This supports the 'posterior prevalence' model, which also predicts that ectopic expression of a given Hox gene would result in altered structure only in regions anterior to its normal domain of expression. To test this model further, we have expressed the Hox-4.2 gene more rostrally than its normal mesoderm anterior boundary of expression, which is at the level of the first cervical somites. This ectopic expression results in a homeotic transformation of the occipital bones towards a more posterior phenotype into structures that resemble cervical vertebrae, whereas it has no effect in regions that normally express Hox-4.2. These results are similar to the homeotic posteriorization phenomenon generated in Drosophila by ectopic expression of genes of the homeotic complex HOM-C (refs 7-10; reviewed in ref. 3).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • Base Sequence
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / embryology*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Congenital Abnormalities
  • DNA / genetics
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Genes, Homeobox*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Skull / anatomy & histology*
  • Skull / embryology
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transfection
  • Transformation, Genetic*


  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • DNA