The Physiology of Homeoprotein Transduction

Physiol Rev. 2018 Oct 1;98(4):1943-1982. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00018.2017.


The homeoprotein family comprises ~300 transcription factors and was long seen as primarily involved in developmental programs through cell autonomous regulation. However, recent evidence reveals that many of these factors are also expressed in the adult where they exert physiological functions not yet fully deciphered. Furthermore, the DNA-binding domain of most homeoproteins contains two signal sequences allowing their secretion and internalization, thus intercellular transfer. This review focuses on this new-found signaling in cell migration, axon guidance, and cerebral cortex physiological homeostasis and speculates on how it may play important roles in early arealization of the neuroepithelium. It also describes the use of homeoproteins as therapeutic proteins in mouse models of diseases affecting the central nervous system, in particular Parkinson disease and glaucoma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors