Evolution of chordate Hox gene clusters

Frank H. Ruddle, Chris T. Amemiya, Janet L. Carr, Chang Bae Kim, Christina Ledje, Cooduvalli S. Shashikant, Günter P. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In this article, we consider the role of the Hox genes in chordate and vertebrate evolution from the viewpoints of molecular and developmental evolution. Models of Hox cluster duplication are considered with emphasis on a threefold duplication model. We also show that cluster duplication is consistent with a semiconservative model of duplication, where following duplication, one daughter cluster remains unmodified, while the other diverges and assumes a new architecture and presumably new functions. Evidence is reviewed, suggesting that Hox gene enhancers have played an important role in body plan evolution. Finally, we contrast the invertebrates and vertebrates in terms of genome and Hox cluster duplication which are present in the latter, but not the former. We question whether gene duplication has been important in vertebrates for the introduction of novel features such as limbs, a urogenital system, and specialized neuromuscular interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-248
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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