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Dev Dyn. 2003 Jun;227(2):192-202.

HOXB13 homeodomain protein is cytoplasmic throughout fetal skin development.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, VA Medical Center and University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.


Substantial evidence suggests that HOX homeobox genes regulate aspects of body development, including hair formation. We initially isolated the HOXB13 gene from human fetal skin in experiments designed to identify candidate genes that regulate scarless fetal wound healing. Although the HOX homeodomain proteins have been proposed to function as transcription factors, we have demonstrated previously that substantial fractions of the HOXB6 and HOXB4 proteins are localized to the cytoplasm throughout epidermal development. The purpose of the current study was to identify HOXB13 protein expression patterns in developing skin to elucidate potential mechanisms by which this protein might regulate aspects of tissue development and healing. HOXB13 protein expression was detected throughout the developing epidermis, with weaker signal observed in the early developing dermis. Epidermal HOXB13 signal was detected over the entire body surface, but surprisingly, essentially all of the signal was cytoplasmic in developing skin. Low-level HOXB13 protein expression was detected in adult skin and within the telogen hair follicle, and a portion of the residual signal in adult epidermis was nuclear. Expression in hyperproliferative skin conditions remained cytoplasmic with the exception of epidermis associated with Kaposi's sarcoma, which showed strong HOXB13 expression that was partially localized to the nucleus.

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