Synpolydactyly in Mice With a Targeted Deficiency in the HoxD Complex

Nature. 1996 Nov 7;384(6604):69-71. doi: 10.1038/384069a0.


The morphogenesis of mammalian digits requires the function of several genes of the HoxD complex during development of limb buds. Using embryonic stem (ES) cells and a site-specific recombination system (loxP/Cre), we have induced a deficiency that eliminates the products of the Hoxd-13, Hoxd-12 and Hoxd-11 genes simultaneously. A Hoxd-11/lacz reporter gene replaced the deleted region in order to monitor the effect of this triple inactivation at the cellular level. Mice homozygous for this deficiency showed small digit primordia, a disorganized cartilage pattern and impaired skeletal mass. These alterations are similar to the defects seen in a human synpolydactyly, suggesting that this syndrome, which is associated with a subtle mutation in HOXD13 (ref. 8), may involve the loss of function of several Hoxd genes. These results indicate the existence of a functional hierarchy among these genes and provide us with an animal model to study human digit malformations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Targeting
  • Genes, Homeobox*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Polydactyly / genetics*
  • Stem Cells
  • Syndactyly / genetics*
  • Syndrome
  • Toes / embryology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Hoxd11 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors