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‘Building a perfect body’: control of vertebrate organogenesis by PBX-dependent regulatory networks


Pbx genes encode transcription factors that belong to the TALE (three-amino-acid loop extension) superclass of homeodomain proteins. We have witnessed a surge in information about the roles of this gene family as leading actors in the transcriptional control of development. PBX proteins represent a clear example of how transcription factors can regulate developmental processes by combinatorial properties, acting within multimeric complexes to implement activation or repression of transcription depending on their interaction partners. Here, we revisit long-emphasized functions of PBX transcription factors as cofactors for HOX proteins, major architects of the body plan. We further discuss new knowledge on roles of PBX proteins in different developmental contexts as upstream regulators of Hox genes-as factors that interact with non-HOX proteins and can work independently of HOX-as well as potential pioneer factors. Committed to building a perfect body, PBX proteins govern regulatory networks that direct essential morphogenetic processes and organogenesis in vertebrate development. Perturbations of PBX-dependent networks can cause human congenital disease and cancer.

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