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Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:591374. doi: 10.1155/2014/591374. Epub 2014 Jul 21.

Hox transcription factors: modulators of cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix adhesion.

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Division of Basic Molecular Science and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, Tokai University, Isehara, Kanagawa 259-1193, Japan.


Hox genes encode homeodomain-containing transcription factors that determine cell and tissue identities in the embryo during development. Hox genes are also expressed in various adult tissues and cancer cells. In Drosophila, expression of cell adhesion molecules, cadherins and integrins, is regulated by Hox proteins operating in hierarchical molecular pathways and plays a crucial role in segment-specific organogenesis. A number of studies using mammalian cultured cells have revealed that cell adhesion molecules responsible for cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions are downstream targets of Hox proteins. However, whether Hox transcription factors regulate expression of cell adhesion molecules during vertebrate development is still not fully understood. In this review, the potential roles Hox proteins play in cell adhesion and migration during vertebrate body patterning are discussed.

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