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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®

FOX gene family

Reviewed December 2013

What are the FOX genes?

The FOX gene family provides instructions for making proteins that play a critical role in the formation of many organs and tissues before birth. These proteins are transcription factors, which means that they attach (bind) to specific regions of DNA and help control the activity of many other genes. Members of the FOX family are involved in many aspects of embryonic development. FOX proteins regulate certain gene activities in the eyes, lungs, brain, cardiovascular system, digestion system, immune system, and cell division cycle. Mutations in some FOX genes can lead to tumor development.

The FOX genes are named with a letter and a number in order to identify which FOX gene subfamily they belong to. The subfamilies are designated by a letter (A through R) and the individual genes in these subfamilies are further designated by a number (e.g. FOXD4).

Which genes are included in the FOX gene family?

The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) provides an index of gene families ( and their member genes.

Genetics Home Reference summarizes the normal function and health implications of these members of the FOX gene family: FOXC1, FOXC2, FOXF1, FOXG1, FOXL2, FOXN1, and FOXP3.

What conditions are related to genes in the FOX gene family?

Genetics Home Reference includes these conditions related to genes in the FOX gene family:

  • alveolar capillary dysplasia with misalignment of pulmonary veins
  • Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome
  • blepharophimosis, ptosis, and epicanthus inversus syndrome
  • Dandy-Walker malformation
  • FOXG1 syndrome
  • immune dysregulation, polyendocrinopathy, enteropathy, X-linked syndrome
  • lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome
  • Peters anomaly
  • T-cell immunodeficiency, congenital alopecia, and nail dystrophy
  • type 1 diabetes

Where can I find additional information about the FOX gene family?

You may find the following resources about the FOX gene family helpful.

  • Molecular Cell Biology (fourth edition, 2000): Eukaryotic Transcription Activators and Repressors ( (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
  • Developmental Biology (sixth edition, 2000): Transcription Factors ( (U.S. National Library of Medicine)

What glossary definitions help with understanding the FOX gene family?

cardiovascular ; cell ; cell division ; cell division cycle ; digestion ; DNA ; embryonic ; gene ; immune system ; motif ; transcription ; tumor

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.


These sources were used to develop the Genetics Home Reference summary for the FOX gene family.

  • Martínez-Gac L, Alvarez B, García Z, Marqués M, Arrizabalaga M, Carrera AC. Phosphoinositide 3-kinase and Forkhead, a switch for cell division. Biochem Soc Trans. 2004 Apr;32(Pt 2):360-1. Review. (
  • Myatt SS, Lam EW. The emerging roles of forkhead box (Fox) proteins in cancer. Nat Rev Cancer. 2007 Nov;7(11):847-59. Review. (
  • Friedman JR, Kaestner KH. The Foxa family of transcription factors in development and metabolism. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Oct;63(19-20):2317-28. Review. (
  • Jonsson H, Peng SL. Forkhead transcription factors in immunology. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2005 Feb;62(4):397-409. Review. (
  • Kaestner KH, Knochel W, Martinez DE. Unified nomenclature for the winged helix/forkhead transcription factors. Genes Dev. 2000 Jan 15;14(2):142-6. (
  • Lehmann OJ, Sowden JC, Carlsson P, Jordan T, Bhattacharya SS. Fox's in development and disease. Trends Genet. 2003 Jun;19(6):339-44. Review. (
  • Katoh M, Katoh M. Human FOX gene family (Review). Int J Oncol. 2004 Nov;25(5):1495-500. Review. (


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Reviewed: December 2013
Published: February 1, 2016