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Int Rev Cytol. 2001;207:1-70.

T-box genes in development: from hydra to humans.

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Department of Genetics and Development, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


The T-box gene family was uncovered less than a decade ago but has been recognized as important in controlling many and varied aspects of development in metazoans from hydra to humans. Extensive screening and database searching has revealed several subfamilies of genes with orthologs in species as diverse as Caenorhabditis elegans and humans. The defining feature of the family is a conserved sequence coding for a DNA-binding motif known as the T-box, named after the first-discovered T-box gene, T or Brachyury. Although several T-box proteins have been shown to function as transcriptional regulators, to date only a handful of downstream target genes have been discovered. Similarly, little is known about regulation of the T-box genes themselves. Although not limited to the embryo, expression of T-box genes is characteristically seen in dynamic and highly specific patterns in many tissues and organs during embryogenesis and organogenesis. The essential role of several T-box genes has been demonstrated by the developmental phenotypes of mutant animals.

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