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J Invest Dermatol. 1998 Jul;111(1):57-63.

Modulation of the human homeobox genes PRX-2 and HOXB13 in scarless fetal wounds.

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1
Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, USA.

Abstract

Scarless healing of cutaneous wounds occurs in humans during the first two trimesters of development, but by birth all wounds are repaired with scar formation. To search for transcriptional regulatory genes that might mediate fetal tissue regeneration, we surveyed homeobox gene expression in proliferating fetal fibroblasts and in wounded and unwounded skin. Two novel human homeobox genes, PRX-2 and HOXB13, were identified that were differentially expressed during fetal versus adult wound healing. Both genes were predominantly expressed in proliferating fetal fibroblasts and developing dermis, and PRX-2 was downregulated in adult skin. In a model of scarless fetal skin regeneration, PRX-2 expression was strongly increased compared with unwounded skin and the signal was localized to the wounded dermis, the site of scarless repair. Conversely, in adult skin weak epidermal PRX-2 expression was observed, mRNA levels were not increased by wounding, and no dermal expression was detected. HOXB13 expression was decreased in wounded fetal tissue relative to unwounded fetal controls or wounded adult skin. Thus both HOXB13 and PRX-2 are expressed in patterns consistent with roles in fetal skin development and cutaneous regeneration.

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