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Dev Biol. 2004 Dec 15;276(2):301-12.

Abnormalities of caudal pharyngeal pouch development in Pbx1 knockout mice mimic loss of Hox3 paralogs.

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Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Life Sciences, B 420A, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Pbx1 is a TALE-class homeodomain protein that functions in part as a cofactor for Hox class homeodomain proteins. Previous analysis of the in vivo functions of Pbx1 by targeted mutagenesis in mice has revealed roles for this gene in skeletal patterning and development and in the organogenesis of multiple systems. Both RNA expression and protein localization studies have suggested a possible role for Pbx1 in pharyngeal region development. As several Hox mutants have distinct phenotypes in this region, we investigated the potential requirement for Pbx1 in the development of the pharyngeal arches and pouches and their organ derivatives. Pbx1 homozygous mutants exhibited delayed or absent formation of the caudal pharyngeal pouches, and disorganized patterning of the third pharyngeal pouch. Formation of the third pouch-derived thymus/parathyroid primordia was also affected, with absent or hypoplastic primordia, delayed expression of organ-specific differentiation markers, and reduced proliferation of thymic epithelium. The fourth pouch and the fourth pouch-derived ultimobranchial bodies were usually absent. These phenotypes are similar to those previously reported in Hoxa3(-/-) single mutants and Hoxa1(-/-);Hoxb1(-/-) or Hoxa3(+/-);Hoxb3(-/-);Hoxd3(-/-) compound mutants, suggesting that Pbx1 acts together with multiple Hox proteins in the development of the caudal pharyngeal region. However, some aspects of the Pbx1 mutant phenotype included specific defects that were less severe than those found in known Hox mutant mice, suggesting that some functions of Hox proteins in this region are Pbx1-independent.

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