Murine Homeo-Genes: Some Aspects of their Organisation and Structure
The mammalian genome contains at least 30 sequences related to the Drosophila Antennapedia (Antp) homeo-box (see references below). Most, if not all, of these sequences are present in the coding regions of actively transcribed genes (1–23) and thus define a homeo-gene family of as yet unknown function. It is supposed, by analogy with similar genes in insects (24, 25 and refs. therein), and by structural comparisons with prokaryotic DNA-binding domains (26), that such homeo-genes are involved in a regulatory network during ontogenesis through a DNA-binding activity. This gene family might therefore be of considerable importance in vertebrate morphogenesis, pattern formation and the specification of cell lineages. In this paper, we present some aspects of the structure of the homeo-gene family and homeo-genes themselves. Organisational features apparent at both levels may provide insight into their evolution, phylogenetic relationships, and possible modes of action. These aspects will be considered separately and exemplified by the situation as it is known in the house mouse.
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