The Cdx (Caudal-type homeobox) group of ParaHox genes (Cdx1, Cdx2 and Cdx4 in the mouse) perform multiple functions in mammalian development. Cdx1 is concerned with axial positional information, and its deletion appears to have no important effect other than a disturbance of axial patterning. In contrast, Cdx2 is required for trophoblast differentiation, axial patterning and extension, as well as for morphological specification (i.e. patterning) of gut endoderm. Cdx4-knockout animals do not present an abnormal phenotype, but, when combined with Cdx2 haploinsufficiency, present a dramatic picture involving abnormal cloacal specification. The latter is probably due in large part to defective paraxial mesodermal development in the caudal region, but may also involve defective endodermal growth. A significant degree of redundancy is apparent between the Cdx genes with respect to caudal extension and possibly also during gut development.

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