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Cell. 1993 Jul 16;74(1):29-42.

A homeotic gene cluster patterns the anteroposterior body axis of C. elegans.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0554.


In insects and vertebrates, clusters of Antennapedia class homeobox (HOM-C) genes specify anteroposterior body pattern. The nematode C. elegans also contains a small cluster of HOM-C genes, one of which has been shown to specify positional identity. Here we show that two additional C. elegans HOM-C genes also specify positional identity and that together these three HOM-C genes function along the anteroposterior axis in the same order as their homologs in other organisms. Thus, HOM-C-based pattern formation has been conserved in nematodes despite the many differences in morphology and embryology that distinguish them from other phyla. Each C. elegans HOM-C gene is responsible for a distinct body region; however, where their domains overlap, two HOM-C genes can act together to specify the fates of individual cells.

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