The molecular basis of hypodactyly (Hd): a deletion in Hoxa 13 leads to arrest of digital arch formation

Nat Genet. 1996 Jul;13(3):284-9. doi: 10.1038/ng0796-284.


Hypodactyly (Hd) is a semidominant mutation in mice that maps in a genetic interval overlapping the Hoxa cluster. The profound deficiency of digital arch structures in Hd/Hd mice is consistent with a defect in a gene activated late in limb morphogenesis. We have determined the structure of the Hoxa13 gene and describe a 50-base pair deletion in the first exon of the Hd allele that probably arose from unequal recombination or misalignment between triplet repeats. It is predicted that no Hoxa13 protein is made from Hd mRNA. The hypodactyly limb phenotype is similar to that of Hoxd13-deficient mice in sharing defects along multiple axes and alterations in cartilage maturation; however, the overall effects on digital arch formation are more severe in Hd/Hd mice. Our results confirm the critical role of AbdB-like Hox genes in the development of the autopod, and add to the spectrum of mutations involving triplet repeats.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Embryo, Mammalian / abnormalities
  • Embryo, Mammalian / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Homeodomain Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homozygote
  • Limb Deformities, Congenital*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Mutation*
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Toes / abnormalities


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • homeobox protein HOXA13

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U59322