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Homeotic genes are defined as a gene, mutations in which result in the transformation of one body part into another.

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HOMEOTIC GENES Homeotic genes are defined as a gene, mutations in which result in the transformation of one body part into another. Studies in this field of science have steadily progressed in the last 50 years. Scientists discovered the existence of genes that determine body plans by analysing bizarre aberrations in the body form that resulted from mutations in the fruit fly Drosophila Melanogater. Studies began by a pair of scientist's Christiane N(sslein-Volhard and Eric. F. Wieschaus. They identified and classified 15 genes of key importance in determining the body plan and the formation of body segments of the fruit fly Drosophila. However, the main research and findings was completed by a scientist called Edward Lewis in 1946 at the California Institute of Technology. ...read more.


Lewis only summarised the results of his scientific work after several decades in 1970. He formulated far seeing theories on the function of homeotic genes in combination both with each other and with the co-linearity principle. Other homeotic genes in Drosophila include Labial, which controls development of the head; Ultrabithorax, which specifies the segment of the abdomen. In the 1970s, recombinant DNA techniques - used to isolate the mutated genes responsible for this developmental observation was completed. When isolated and studied, it was found that each one contains a nucleotide sequence 180 bp in length that is very similar in different genes. This is called Homobox. Studies carried out after Lewis's initial research found that the homobox was not confined to insects but in many other organisms including amphibians and mammals. ...read more.


These are just some of the examples of homeotic genes and many more have been discovered in recent years. It can be seen that studies carried out by Edward Lewis and other scientists has built the foundations of one of the most surprising discoveries in developmental biology, - 'the same types of genes which control early embryonic development in Drosophila also control a lot of higher organisms including humans.' Generally, there is a long way to go before a full understanding of how Homeotic genes work within the human development programme, but realisation that the experiment carried out in Drosophila have a direct link on development in vertebrates is a huge step forward. REFRENCES * http://gslc.genetics.utah.edu/basic/developmental/evolutionary.html * Genetics - A Molecular Approach - T. A. Brown * Biochemistry - Matthew's/Van Holde/Ahern * http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1995/illpres/more-l-segmspec.html ...read more.

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