During development, a properly coordinated expression of Hox genes, within their different genomic clusters is critical for patterning the body plans of many animals with a bilateral symmetry. The fascinating correspondence between the topological organization of Hox clusters and their transcriptional activation in space and time has served as a paradigm for understanding the relationships between genome structure and function. Here, we review some recent observations, which revealed highly dynamic changes in the structure of chromatin at Hox clusters, in parallel with their activation during embryonic development. We discuss the relevance of these findings for our understanding of large-scale gene regulation.
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