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Dev Growth Differ. 2002 Aug;44(4):281-92.

Expression of Hex homeobox gene during skin development: Increase in epidermal cell proliferation by transfecting the Hex to the dermis.

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Department of Physiological Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Sciences, Teikyo University, Sagamiko, Kanagawa 199-0195, Japan.


A number of homeobox genes have been found to be expressed in skin and its appendages, such as scale and feather, and appear to be candidates for the regulation of the development of these tissues. We report that the proline-rich divergent homeobox gene Hex is expressed during development of chick embryonic skin and its appendages (scale and feather). In situ hybridization analysis revealed that, during development of the skin, a transient expression of the Hex gene was observed. While the expression of Hex in the dermis was closely correlated with proliferation activity of epidermal basal cells, that in the epidermis was related to a suppression of epidermal differentiation. When dermal fibroblasts were transfected with Hex, stimulation of both DNA synthesis and proliferation of the epidermal cells followed by two-fold scale ridge elongation and increase in epidermal area was observed during culture of the skin, whereas epidemal keratinization was not affected. This is the first study to demonstrate that Hex is expressed during development of the skin and its appendages and that its expression in the dermal cells regulates epidermal cell proliferation through epithelial mesenchymal interaction.

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