A distinct Hox code for the branchial region of the vertebrate head

Nature. 1991 Oct 31;353(6347):861-4. doi: 10.1038/353861a0.


The branchial region of the vertebrate head forms through complex interactions involving rhombomeric segments, neural crest and branchial arches. It is though that aspects of their patterning mechanisms are linked and involve Hox-2 genes, whose overlapping and spatially restricted expression domains represent a combinatorial code for generating regional diversity. Vertebrates possess four Hox clusters of Antennapedia class homeobox genes, related to each other by duplication and divergence from a common ancestral complex. In consequence, at equivalent positions in different clusters there are highly related genes known as subfamilies or paralogous groups. As Hox-2 genes cannot fully account for patterning individual rhombomeres, we investigated whether offsets in expression limits of paralogous genes could account for the generation of regional diversity. We report here that, with the exception of the labial subfamily, paralogues show identical expression limits in rhombomeres, cranial ganglia and branchial arches, providing a combinatorial Hox code for the branchial region that seems to be different in organization to that of the trunk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / embryology
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Homeobox*
  • Gestational Age
  • Mesencephalon / anatomy & histology
  • Mesencephalon / embryology
  • Mice / anatomy & histology
  • Mice / genetics*
  • Rhombencephalon / anatomy & histology
  • Rhombencephalon / embryology
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology*
  • Spinal Cord / embryology