The vertebrate Cdx genes (Cdx1 Cdx2 and Cdx4 in the mouse) encode homeodomain transcription factors related to the Drosophila caudal gene. The vertebrate Cdx gene products have been implicated in the development of the posterior embryo. In particular, loss- and gain-of-function experiments suggest that Cdx members are direct regulators of Hox genes and likely impart posterior information, in part, through this mechanism. Several signaling molecules, notably retinoic acid (RA*) and members of the Wnt (wingless) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) families, are also implicated in patterning of the posterior vertebrate embryo. Interestingly, recent work indicates that members of the Cdx family are targets of Wnt, RA and FGF signaling, suggesting that Cdx factors act to convey the activity of these signaling molecules to Hox genes. This article will briefly review Cdx expression and function, with particular emphasis on vertebrate model systems.
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