The mammalian Hox genes are a highly evolutionarily conserved family of 39 transcription factors that play critical roles in organogenesis and patterning the developing embryo, both in directing head-to-tail cellular identity as well as limb outgrowth. Beyond embryogenesis, Hox expression is maintained in many tissues and organs through postnatal and adult stages of life in populations of mesenchymal stem/progenitor cells.

The Wellik lab uses mouse genetics to study the role and function of Hox genes in development, disease, regeneration and repair. Ongoing projects in the lab center around the musculoskeletal system (Hox11) and the lung (Hox5) and their respective Hox-expressing mesenchymal populations. The ultimate goal of the lab is to elucidate the mechanistic role of Hox in directing development and regeneration and harness this information for improvement of regenerative therapies.


Image courtesy of Lauren Koch

Determine the function of Hox11 in skeletal mesenchymal stem cells in development & regeneration.


Image courtesy of Leilani Marty Santos

Determine the mechanism of Hox5 function in alveologenesis and lung mesenchyme maintenance/regeneration.


Image courtesy of Lauren Koch

Determine how Hox11-expressing cells functionally contribute to muscle fiber growth and regeneration post-injury.