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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Dec 20, 1994; 91(26): 12644–12648.
PMCID: PMC45495

Homeotic transformation of cervical vertebrae in Hoxa-4 mutant mice.

Abstract

Hoxa-4 (previously known as Hox-1.4) is a mouse homeobox-containing gene that is expressed in the presumptive hindbrain and spinal cord, prevertebrae, and other tissues during embryogenesis. To understand the role of Hoxa-4 during development, we generated Hoxa-4 mutant mice. Homozygous mutants were viable and fertile. Analysis of neonatal skeletons revealed the development of ribs on the seventh cervical vertebra at variable penetrance and expressivity. A low frequency of alterations in sternal morphogenesis was also observed. In addition, we analyzed the skeletons of transgenic mice that overexpress Hoxa-4 and found that the formation of the small rib anlagen that often develop on the seventh cervical vertebra was suppressed. Analysis of adult homozygous mutant skeletons revealed that the dorsal process normally associated with the second cervical vertebra was also found on the third cervical vertebra. These results demonstrate that Hoxa-4 plays a role in conferring positional information along the anteroposterior axis to specify the identity of the third and the seventh cervical vertebrae.

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