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Genes Dev. 1995 Jan 1;9(1):108-22.

Genetic interaction between hoxb-5 and hoxb-6 is revealed by nonallelic noncomplementation.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Human Genetics, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84112.


hoxb-5 and hoxb-6 are adjacent genes in the mouse HoxB locus and are members of the homeotic transcription factor complex that governs establishment of the mammalian body plan. To determine the roles of these genes during development, we generated mice with a targeted disruption in each gene. Three phenotypes affecting brachiocervicothoracic structures were found in the mutant mice. First, hoxb-5- homozygotes have a rostral shift of the shoulder girdle, analogous to what is seen in the human Sprengel anomaly. This suggests a role for hoxb-5 in specifying the position of limbs along the anteroposterior axis of the vertebrate body. Second, hoxb-6- homozygotes frequently have a missing first rib and a bifid second rib. The third phenotype, an anteriorizing homeotic transformation of the cervicothoracic vertebrae from C6 through T1, is common to both hoxb-5- and hoxb-6- homozygotes. Quite unexpectedly, hoxb-5, hoxb-6 transheterozygotes (hoxb-5-hoxb-6+/hoxb-5+ hoxb-6-) also show the third phenotype. By this classical genetic complementation test, these two mutations appear as alleles of the same gene. This phenomenon is termed nonallelic noncomplementation and suggests that these two genes function together to specify this region of the mammalian vertebral column.

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