HOX genes belong to a family of transcription factors characterized by a 183 bp DNA sequence called homeobox, which code for a 61-amino-acid domain defined as the homeodomain. These genes play a central role during embryonic development by controlling body organization, organogenesis, and stem cell differentiation. They can also play a role in adult processes such as embryo implantation, hematopoiesis, and endothelial differentiation. Since endothelial cell differentiation is one of the main steps to initiate vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, we analyzed the role of several Hox genes in the regulation of these two processes. In this chapter, we summarized the evidence to support the function of Hox genes in adult tissues, specifically in endothelial cell differentiation, by studying their mechanism of action and how their target genes regulate vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms triggered by Hox biological effects is pivotal for designing new drugs or therapies for high prevalent pathologies, such as cardiovascular diseases.
Part of the book: Endothelial Dysfunction