Homeobox genes in normal and abnormal vasculogenesis

M. Cantile, G. Schiavo, L. Terracciano, C. Cillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Homeobox containing genes are a family of transcription factors regulating normal development and controlling primary cellular processes (cell identity, cell division and differentiation) recently enriched by the discovery of their interaction with miRNAs and ncRNAs. Class I human homeobox genes (HOX genes) are characterized by a unique genomic network organization: four compact chromosomal loci where 39 sequence corresponding genes can be aligned with each other in 13 antero-posterior paralogous groups. The cardiovascular system is the first mesoderm organ-system to be generated during embryonic development; subsequently it generates the blood and lymphatic vascular systems. Cardiovascular remodelling is involved through homeobox gene regulation and deregulation in adult physiology (menstrual cycle and wound healing) and pathology (atherosclerosis, arterial restenosis, tumour angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis). Understanding the role played by homeobox genes in endothelial and smooth muscle cell phenotype determination will be crucial in identifying the molecular processes involved in vascular cell differentiation, as well as to support future therapeutic strategies. We report here on the current knowledge of the role played by homeobox genes in normal and abnormal vasculogenesis and postulate a common molecular mechanism accounting for the involvement of homeobox genes in the regulation of the nuclear export of specific transcripts potentially capable of generating endothelial phenotype modification involved in new vessel formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-658
Number of pages8
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • Angiogenesis
  • Homeobox genes
  • HOX genes
  • Vascular remodelling
  • Vasculogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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