New member of the winged-helix protein family disrupted in mouse and rat nude mutations

Nature. 1994 Nov 3;372(6501):103-7. doi: 10.1038/372103a0.


Mutations at the nude locus of mice and rats disrupt normal hair growth and thymus development, causing nude mice and rats to be immune-deficient. The mouse nude locus has been localized on chromosome 11 (refs 3, 4) within a region of < 1 megabase. Here we show that one of the genes from this critical region, designated whn, encodes a new member of the winged-helix domain family of transcription factors, and that it is disrupted on mouse nu and rat rnuN alleles. Mutant transcripts do not encode the characteristic DNA-binding domain, strongly suggesting that the whn gene is the nude gene. Mutations in winged-helix domain genes cause homeotic transformations in Drosophila and distort cell-fate decisions during vulval development in Caenorhabditis elegans. The whn gene is thus the first member of this class of genes to be implicated in a specific developmental defect in vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Nude / embryology
  • Mice, Nude / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Rats
  • Rats, Nude / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • Whn protein

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X81593