How do HOX genes function?

1 Answer
Mar 8, 2017

Hox genes are gene complexes whose proteins bind to the regulatory regions of target genes. The target genes then activate or repress cell processes to direct the final developement of the organism.


The products of Hox genes are Hox proteins. These proteins are capable of binding to specific nucleotide sequences on the DNA
( enhancers ), where they either activate or repress genes.

The ability of Hox proteins to bind DNA is conferred by a part of the protein referred to as the homeo domain. The same Hox gene can act as a repressor at one gene and an activator at another.

Hox genes are ultimately responsible for the formation of all our body organs, tissues, bones and body segments by turning on or off other genes that are responsible for turning embryonic stem cells into different cell types. They are also responsible for the correct placement of our body segments.