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Hum Mol Genet. 2019 Jan 10. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddz013. [Epub ahead of print]

Multifaceted Hoxa13 function in urogenital development underlies the Hand-Foot-Genital Syndrome.

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Genetics and Development Research Unit, Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Goodman Cancer Research Centre and Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Department of Experimental Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Département de Médecine (Programme de Biologie Moléculaire), Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Hand-Foot-Genital syndrome is a rare condition caused by mutations in the HOXA13 gene and characterized by limb malformations and urogenital defects. While the role of Hoxa13 in limb development has been extensively studied, its function during the development of the urogenital system remains elusive mostly due to the embryonic lethality of Hoxa13 homozygous mutant mice. Using a conditional inactivation strategy, we show that mouse fetuses lacking Hoxa13 function develop megaureters, hydronephrosis and malformations of the uterus, reminiscent of the defects characterizing patients with Hand-Foot-Genital syndrome. Our analysis reveals that Hoxa13 plays a critical role in Müllerian ducts fusion and in ureter remodeling by regulating the elimination of the caudal common nephric duct, eventually preventing the separation from the nephric duct. Our data also reveal a specific role for Hoxa13 in the urogenital sinus, which is in part mediated by Gata3, as well as Hoxa13 requirement for the proper organization of the ureter epithelium. Finally, we provide evidence that Hoxa13 provides positional and temporal cues during the development of the lower urogenital system, a sine qua non condition for the proper function of the urinary system.


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