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Mol Genet Metab. 2000 Feb;69(2):85-100.

Developmental patterning genes and their conserved functions: from model organisms to humans.

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Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Molecular and genetic evidence accumulated during the past 20 years in the field of developmental biology indicates that different animals possess many common genetic systems for embryonic patterning. In this review we describe the conserved functions of such developmental patterning genes and their relevance for human pathological conditions. Special attention is given to the Hox genetic system, involved in establishing cell identities along the anterior-posterior axis of all higher metazoans. We also describe other conserved genetic systems, such as the involvement of Pax6 genes in eye development and the role of Nkx2.5-type proteins in heart development. Finally, we outline some fascinating problems at the forefront of the studies of developmental patterning genes and show how knowledge obtained from model genetic organisms such as Drosophila helps to explain normal human morphogenesis and the genetic basis of some birth defects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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