Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1995

Publication Title

BioEssays

Volume

17

Issue

12

First Page

1065

Last Page

1073

DOI

10.1002/bies.950171211

Abstract

In the minds of many, Hox gene null mutant phenotypes have confirmed the direct role that these genes play in specifying the pattern of vertebrate embryos. The genes are envisaged as defining discrete spatial domains and, subsequently, conferring specific segmental identities on cells undergoing differentiation along the antero-posterior axis. However, several aspects of the observed mutant phenotypes are inconsistent with this view. These include: the appearance of other, unexpected transformations along the dorsal axis; the occurrence of mirror-image duplications; and the development of anomalies outside the established domains of normal Hox gene expression. In this paper, Hox gene disruptions are shown to elicit regeneration-like responses in tissues confronted with discontinuities in axial identity. The polarities and orientations of transformed segments which emerge as a consequence of this response obey the rules of distal transformation and intercalary regeneration. In addition, the incidence of periodic anomalies suggests that the initial steps of Hox-mediated patterning occurs in Hensen's node. As gastrulation proceeds, mesoderm cell cycle kinetics impose constraints upon subsequent cellular differentiation. This results in the delayed manifestation of transformations along the antero-posterior axis. Finally, a paradigm is sketched in which temporal, rather than spatial axial determinants direct differentiation. Specific, testable predictions are made about the role of Hox genes in the establishment of segmental identity. In the minds of many, Hox gene null mutant phenotypes have confirmed the direct role that these genes play in specifying the pattern of vertebrate embryos. The genes are envisaged as defining discrete spatial domains and, subsequently, conferring specific segmental identities on cells undergoing differentiation along the antero-posterior axis. However, several aspects of the observed mutant phenotypes are inconsistent with this view. These include: the appearance of other, unexpected transformations along the dorsal axis; the occurrence of mirror-image duplications; and the development of anomalies outside the established domains of normal Hox gene expression. In this paper, Hox gene disruptions are shown to elicit regeneration-like responses in tissues confronted with discontinuities in axial identity. The polarities and orientations of transformed segments which emerge as a consequence of this response obey the rules of distal transformation and intercalary regeneration. In addition, the incidence of periodic anomalies suggests that the initial steps of Hox-mediated patterning occurs in Hensen's node. As gastrulation proceeds, mesoderm cell cycle kinetics impose constraints upon subsequent cellular differentiation. This results in the delayed manifestation of transformations along the antero-posterior axis. Finally, a paradigm is sketched in which temporal, rather than spatial axial determinants direct differentiation. Specific, testable predictions are made about the role of Hox genes in the establishment of segmental identity.

Comments

This is the accepted version of the following article: Transformations in null mutants of Hox genes: do they represent intercalary regenerates?, which has been published in final form at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bies.950171211.

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