Molecular insights into the origin of the Hox-TALE patterning system

Bruno Hudry, Morgane Thomas-Chollier, Yael Volovik, Marilyne Duffraisse, Amélie Dard, Dale Frank, Ulrich Technau, Samir Merabet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite tremendous body form diversity in nature, bilaterian animals share common sets of developmental genes that display conserved expression patterns in the embryo. Among them are the Hox genes, which define different identities along the anterior-posterior axis. Hox proteins exert their function by interaction with TALE transcription factors. Hox and TALE members are also present in some but not all non-bilaterian phyla, raising the question of how Hox-TALE interactions evolved to provide positional information. By using proteins from unicellular and multicellular lineages, we showed that these networks emerged from an ancestral generic motif present in Hox and other related protein families. Interestingly, Hox-TALE networks experienced additional and extensive molecular innovations that were likely crucial for differentiating Hox functions along body plans. Together our results highlight how homeobox gene families evolved during eukaryote evolution to eventually constitute a major patterning system in Eumetazoans.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01939
Issue number3
StatePublished - 18 Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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