Homeosis is the transformation of one organ into another, arising from mutation in or misexpression of specific developmentally critical genes. It may be caused by mutations in Hox genes, found in animals, or others such as the MADS-box family in plants. Homeosis is a characteristic that has helped insects become as successful and diverse as they are.
Homeotic mutations work by changing segment identity during development. For example, the Ultrabithorax genotype gives a phenotype wherein metathoracic and first abdominal segments become mesothoracic segments. Another well-known example is Antennapedia: a gain-of-function allele causes legs to develop in the place of antennae.
Homeotic mutants in angiosperms are thought to be rare in the wild: in the annual plant Clarkia, (Onagraceae), homeotic mutants are known where the petals are replaced by a second whorl of sepal like organs, originating via a mutation governed by a single recessive gene. The absence of lethal or deleterious consequences in floral mutants resulting in distinct morphological expressions has been a factor in the evolution of Clarkia, and perhaps also in many other plant groups.
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- Schneuwly, Stephan; Klemenz, Roman; Gehring, Walter J. (1987). "Redesigning the body plan of Drosophilaby ectopic expression of the homoeotic gene Antennapedia". Nature 325 (6107): 816–818. doi:10.1038/325816a0. PMID 3821869.
- Sattler, R. (1988). "Homeosis in Plants". American Journal of Botany 75 (10): 1606–1617. doi:10.2307/2444710. JSTOR 2444710.
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