Homeobox terminology

Thomas R. Anderson babco at ix.netcom.com
Sat Feb 22 14:14:16 EST 1997

In <5ej44h$jlv6 at mars.online.uleth.ca> melvnr at hg.uleth.ca writes: 
>Are the terms homeobox gene, homeotic gene, and HOX gene synonomous?

Not quite.

Homeobox genes are those genes that contain a sequence homologous to a
180 bp sequence encoding a 60 amino acid DNA binding domain that is
found in a number of DNA binding proteins.  There are hundreds of them,
found in all eukaryotes, with varying degrees of homology to one
another, but all containing a sequence homologous with that 60 amino
acid homeobox.

Some of the homeobox genes are homeotic genes--those genes cause
homeotic mutations, which are mutational errors of development
resulting in mistakes in segmentation.  Most well known are a group of
seven genes from Drosophila "HOM-C" complex, including the antennapedia
gene (mutations of these gene cause the flies to have legs growing out
of their heads where antennae are supposed to be) and ultrabiothorax
(which causes a duplication of one of the thoracic segments, resulting
a fly with four wings instead of two).

The HOX genes are a group of 38 vertebrate genes (i.e., a subset of the
vertebrate homeobox genes) that are most closely related to the
Drosophila genes in the HOM-C complex.  These exist in four linkage
groups on four separate chromosomes.

Lots of good info about these genes can be found in a recent book by
Denis Duboule called The Handbook of Homeobox Genes (or something close
to that).

By the way, (here comes the shameless plug) our company has antibodies
available against about half of the vertebrate HOX gene products, and
has a list of email addresses of HOX researchers.  We send those
researchers a periodic update about the antibodies that we are
developing and their utility.  If you would like information about
these antibodies, or would like to have your name added to the list,
please let me know.

Tom Anderson
Berkeley Antibody Company   (BAbCO)
tel:  1-800-922-2226 (in the US)
tel:  1-510-412-8930  (anywhere)
fax:  1-510-412-8940
email:  tanders at babco.com

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