The Mohawk homeobox gene is a critical regulator of tendon differentiation.
Mohawk (Mkx) is a member of the Three Amino acid Loop Extension superclass of atypical homeobox genes that is expressed in developing tendons. To investigate the in vivo functions of Mkx, we generated Mkx(-/-) mice. These mice had hypoplastic tendons throughout the body. Despite the reduction in tendon mass, the cell number in tail tendon fiber bundles was similar between wild-type and Mkx(-/-) mice. We also observed small collagen fibril diameters and a down-regulation of type I collagen in Mkx(-/-) tendons. These data indicate that Mkx plays a critical role in tendon differentiation by regulating type I collagen production in tendon cells.