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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Homeobox genes in mammary gland development and neoplasia

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Both normal development and neoplastic progression involve cellular transitions from one physiological state to another. Whereas much is being discovered about signal transduction networks involved in regulating these transitions, little progress has been made in identifying the higher order genetic determinants that establish and maintain mammary cell identity and dictate cell type-specific responses to mammotropic signals. Homeobox genes are a large superfamily of genes whose members function in establishing and maintaining cell fate and cell identity throughout embryonic development. Recent genetic and expression analyses strongly suggest that homeobox genes may perform similar functions at specific developmental transition points in the mammary gland. These analyses also suggest that homeobox genes may play a contributory or causal role in breast cancer.

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