Hox in space: gene cluster regulation linked to folding of chromatin

Nucleus. 2012 Mar 1;3(2):118-22. doi: 10.4161/nucl.19159. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


The spatial folding of chromatin has been proposed to be involved in the regulation and coordination of gene expression. The mammalian Hox gene clusters form a particularly interesting case of coordinated gene regulation. Within each Hox cluster, the linear order of the genes closely reflects their temporal and anatomical expression pattern. This striking phenomenon suggests that the overall structure of the Hox clusters is important for their regulation. Recent studies employing chromatin conformation capture techniques indicate that Hox clusters adopt a remarkable spatial configuration, in which active and inactive genes are segregated into two distinct chromatin compartments. Here we discuss the possible underlying mechanisms and regulatory roles of this spatial compartmentalization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / chemistry*
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Homeodomain Proteins / chemistry
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Multigene Family / genetics*
  • Protein Folding*


  • Chromatin
  • Homeodomain Proteins