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Jim Mahaffey

Associate Member – Professor of Genetics

Thomas Hall 3556C


My research objective is to understand the genetic control of body patterning in animals. A conserved group of genes encoding homeodomain-class transcription factors (the hox genes) is responsible for establishing the anterior-posterior body pattern of most if not all animals. The encoded proteins specify regional identity by selectively activating necessary battery of “target” genes to establish segment-specific cell fates. However, since the proteins encoded by each hox gene have similar DNA recognition and binding properties, it is not clear how these proteins lead to very specific target gene activation and developmental fates. Clearly, the Hox proteins do not function alone but in concert with other factors.

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