Hox genes

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Term homoeology (oe diphthong) was coined by Bateman in 1890's[1] and used in 1970's onwards up to about 1985 in UK literature. The American English term homeology then became dominant

The human homeobox gene clusters (Hox genes) are found on 4 chromosomes and are involved in the anterior - distal regulation of patterns of anatomical development (morphogenesis). There is a strict correspondence between the order of genes along the chromosome and the order of their expression domains (anterior to posterior) in the developing embryo. Such ordering is not unique to the Hox genes but was first well characterised in them. The homeobox genes are a subclass of regulatory genes coded for nuclear proteins, termed homeoproteins that predominantly act as transcription factors. The protein domain encoded by the homeobox itself is known as the homeodomain (HD). This HD protein recognises and binds to specific DNA sequences in the promoter region of their target genes as complexes with other transcription factors. This regulates the expression of targeted genes and directs the formation of most body structures with a much higher target specificity than any single homeodomain protein would. Not all transcripts of Hox genes contain the homeodomain region which has a very conserved amino acid sequence. Many other human genes contain the homeodomain region.

Hox genes

These are in the order encoded in man

  1. HOXA
  2. HOXB
    • Chromosome 17q21.3 to 17q21.2
      • HOXB1 (homeobox B1)
      • HOXB2 (homeobox B2)
      • HOXB-AS1 (HOXB cluster antisense RNA 1)
      • HOXB3 (homeobox B3)
      • HOXB4 (homeobox B4)
      • MIR10A (microRNA 10a)
      • HOXB5 (homeobox B5)
      • HOXB-AS3 (HOXB cluster antisense RNA 3)
      • HOXB6 (homeobox B6)
      • HOXB7 (homeobox B7)
      • HOXB8 (homeobox B8)
      • HOXB9 (homeobox B9)
      • MIR196A1 (microRNA 196a-1)
      • LOC101060400 (ankyrin repeat domain-containing protein 34A-like)
      • RPL9P28 (ribosomal protein L9 pseudogene 28)
      • COX6B1P2 (cytochrome c oxidase subunit VIb polypeptide 1 (ubiquitous) pseudogene 2)
      • PRAC1 (prostate cancer susceptibility candidate 1)
      • PRAC2 (prostate cancer susceptibility candidate 1)
      • MIR3185 (microRNA 3185)
      • HOXB13 (homeobox B13)
  3. HOXC
  4. HOXD


  1. Rieger, R., Michaelis, A., Green, M. M. Glossary of Genetics and Cytogenetics. New York: Springer-Verlag (pub.) 1976. P281