Ana Casaca1, Gabriel M. Hauswirth2, Heidi Bildsoe2, Moisés Mallo*,1 and Edwina Mcglinn*,2
1Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal and 2EMBL Australia, Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Australia
Precise regulation of Hox gene activity is essential to achieve proper control of animal embryonic development and to avoid generation of a variety of malignancies. This is a multilayered process, including complex polycistronic transcription, RNA processing, microRNA repression, long noncoding RNA regulation and sequence-specific translational control, acting together to achieve robust quantitative and qualitative Hox protein output. For many such mechanisms, the Hox cluster gene network has turned out to serve as a paradigmatic model for their study. In this review, we discuss current knowledge of how the different layers of post-transcriptional regulation and the production of a variety of noncoding RNA species control Hox output, and how this shapes formation of developmental systems that are reproducibly patterned by complex Hox networks.