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Krumlauf Lab

We seek to understand the genetic and regulatory bases underlying body plan formation during development and how different species evolve.

Research Summary

How do master regulatory genes influence development and evolution?

Research Areas

Development and Regeneration, Genetics and Genomics, Evolutionary Biology, Molecular and Cell Biology, Neuroscience


Zebrafish, Mice, Fruit flies, Chicks, Sea lamprey

The Krumlauf Lab investigates the regulatory information and mechanisms that control the basic vertebrate body plan in development, disease, and evolution.

The lab focuses on head development and Hox genes—a family of genes that control the layout of a developing embryo from head to tail. The field offers insight into not only how bodies are shaped and formed, but also how species evolved new features. Fundamental discoveries in research organisms hold promise for understanding human health and disease.

The discovery that Hox genes, which control body plan formation, are essentially the same in mice and fruit flies (Drosophila) helped establish the idea that there are conserved genetic mechanisms. Comparative studies in mouse, chick, zebrafish, and sea lamprey continue to provide critical information on how different species form diverse structures.

Pioneering research from the Krumlauf Lab in the early 2000s also helped lay the groundwork for a new approach to treating osteoporosis — an often-debilitating disease that affects millions of people worldwide. The researchers uncovered a mechanism that controls bone growth, which arose out of their basic research into Hox genes. The drug, known as romosozumab, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January 2019, and is the first drug for osteoporosis that promotes bone growth.

The Krumlauf Lab continues to study the molecular and cellular pathways that govern the patterning of the nervous system, body plan, and craniofacial development of vertebrate embryos, particularly how these processes are altered or affected in human diseases.

Principal Investigator

Robb Krumlauf


Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Portrait of Robb Krumlauf

Get to know the lab


The Krumlauf Lab was one of the first to insert genes into the mouse genome to create transgenic mice that mimic human development. Krumlauf is also known for co-discovering collinearity of mammalian Hox genes, a phenomenon in which the order of these genes on the chromosome matches the order they’re expressed from head to tail along the embryo.

Featured Publications

Diversification and Functional Evolution of HOX Proteins

Singh NP, Krumlauf R. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022;10:798812. doi: 798810.793389/fcell.792022.798812.

Transcriptional regulation and implications for controlling Hox gene expression

Afzal Z, Krumlauf R. J Dev Biol. 2022;10:4. doi: 10.3390/jdb10010004.

Genome-Wide Binding Analyses of HOXB1 Revealed a Novel DNA Binding Motif Associated with Gene Repression

Singh NP, De Kumar B, Paulson A, Parrish ME, Scott C, Zhang Y, Florens L, Krumlauf R. [published ahead of print March 4 2021]. Dev Biol. 2021;9.

Segmentation and patterning of the vertebrate hindbrain

Krumlauf R, Wilkinson DG. Development. 2021;148,dev186460. doi:10.1242/dev.186460.

A six-amino-acid motif is a major determinant in functional evolution of HOX1 proteins

Singh NP, De Kumar B, Paulson A, Parrish ME, Zhang Y, Florens L, Conaway JW, Si K, Krumlauf R. Genes Dev. 2020;34:1680-1696.

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