noun, plural: Hox genes
Any of the developmental control genes involved in establishing the anterior-posterior axis and the identity of each body segment in organisms, especially during early embryonic development.
The first hox gene was discovered in Drosophila. Mutation in this gene leads to the formation of a normal structure or organ in place of another at an abnormal site. For instance, mutation in antennapedia hox gene of Drosophila leads to the formation of leg in place of antenna from its head.
Eventually, other hox genes were identified in other organisms, such as in reptiles, vertebrates and plants. The first vertebrate hox gene was isolated in Xenopus by Eddy De Robertis and colleagues in 1984. In plants, one of the well known homeotic genes is the MADS-box genes.
Synonym: homeotic gene