Vertebrae display distinct morphological features at different levels of the body axis. Links between collinear Hox gene activation and the progressive mode of body axis elongation have provided a fascinating blueprint of the mechanisms for establishing these morphological identities. In this review, we first discuss the regulation and possible role of collinear Hox gene activation during body formation and then highlight the direct role of Hox genes in controlling cellular movements during gastrulation, therefore contributing to body formation. Additional related research aspects, such as imaging of chromatin regulation, roles of micro RNAs and evolutional findings are also discussed.



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