Hox genes regulation in vertebrates



Hox genes encode transcription factors defining cellular identities along the major and secondary body axes. Their coordinated expression in both space and time is critical for embryonic patterning. Accordingly, Hox genes transcription is tightly controlled at multiple levels, and involves an intricate combination of local and long-range cis-regulatory elements. Recent studies revealed that in addition to transcription factors, dynamic patterns of histone marks and higher-order chromatin structure are important determinants of Hox gene regulation. Furthermore, the emerging picture suggests an involvement of various species of non-coding RNA in targeting activating and repressive complexes to Hox clusters. I review these recent developments and discuss their relevance to the control of Hox gene expression in vivo, as well as to our understanding of transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. Developmental Dynamics 243:49–58, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.