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Differentiation. 1990 Oct;45(1):61-9.

Expression of HOX homeogenes in human neuroblastoma cell culture lines.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Genetica e Microbiologia, A. Buzzati-Traverso, Universit√† di Pavia, Italy.


Mammalian genes containing a class-I homeobox (HOX genes) are highly expressed in the embryonic nervous system. As a first step towards the molecular analysis of the role these genes play in neural cells, we studied the expression of four human HOX genes in five neuroblastoma (NB) cell lines - SK-N-BE, CHP-134, IMR-32, SK-N-SH and LAN-1 - during the process of differentiation induced by treatment with retinoic acid (RA). The four genes, HOX1D, 2F, 3E and 4B, located at corresponding positions in the four HOX loci, share a high degree of sequence similarity with the Drosophila Deformed homeotic gene and constitute a homology group, group 10. One of these genes, HOX1D, is not expressed in the cells used, whereas the other three are highly expressed in untreated and RA-induced NB cells, even though the expression pattern in the various lines is slightly different for the three genes. Our analysis reveals a complex and specific expression pattern in these lines, paving the way to an identification of different NB-cell populations by means of specific HOX gene expression schemes. On the other hand, in every line studied, morphological maturation toward a neuronal differentiated phenotype appears to be associated with increased HOX gene expression.

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