Skip navigation

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

URL of this page:

TBXT gene

T-box transcription factor T

Normal Function

The TBXT gene provides instructions for making a protein called brachyury. Brachyury is a member of a protein family called T-box proteins, which play critical roles during embryonic development. T-box proteins regulate the activity of other genes by attaching (binding) to specific regions of DNA. On the basis of this action, T-box proteins are called transcription factors.

The brachyury protein is important for the development of the notochord, which is the precursor of the spinal column in the embryo. The notochord disappears before birth, but in a small percentage of individuals, some of its cells remain in the base of the skull or in the spine. The notochord helps control the development of the neural tube, which is a layer of cells that ultimately develops into the brain and spinal cord.

Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes


Changes in the TBXT gene have been associated with chordoma. A chordoma is a cancerous tumor that occurs along the spine or in the base of the skull, gradually extending further into the bone and into nearby soft tissue. The tumor develops from residual cells of the notochord that begin to grow and divide uncontrollably.

An inherited duplication of the TBXT gene identified in a few families is associated with an increased risk of developing a chordoma. Duplications or increases in activity (expression) of the TBXT gene have also been identified in people with chordoma who have no history of the disorder in their family. In these individuals, the changes occur only in the tumor cells and are not inherited.

Duplications and increases in expression of the TBXT gene both result in the production of excess brachyury protein. The specific mechanism by which excess brachyury protein contributes to the development of chordomas is unclear.

More About This Health Condition

Other disorders

A variation of the TBXT gene is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Neural tube defects, which can result in spine and brain abnormalities of varying severity, result when the neural tube fails to close completely during the first few weeks of embryonic development.

The TBXT gene variation associated with neural tube defects, known as TIVS7 T/C, changes a single DNA building block (nucleotide) in a region of the gene known as intron 7. The effect of this genetic change is unclear. Researchers suggest that it may affect the regulation of brachyury protein production in early development, increasing the risk of neural tube defects.

Other Names for This Gene

  • brachyury protein
  • protein T
  • T
  • T brachyury homolog
  • T brachyury transcription factor
  • T, brachyury homolog (mouse)
  • TFT

Additional Information & Resources

Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry

Scientific Articles on PubMed

Gene and Variant Databases


  • Jensen LE, Barbaux S, Hoess K, Fraterman S, Whitehead AS, Mitchell LE. The human T locus and spina bifida risk. Hum Genet. 2004 Nov;115(6):475-82. doi: 10.1007/s00439-004-1185-8. Epub 2004 Sep 24. Citation on PubMed
  • Kelley MJ, Shi J, Ballew B, Hyland PL, Li WQ, Rotunno M, Alcorta DA, Liebsch NJ, Mitchell J, Bass S, Roberson D, Boland J, Cullen M, He J, Burdette L, Yeager M, Chanock SJ, Parry DM, Goldstein AM, Yang XR. Characterization of T gene sequence variants and germline duplications in familial and sporadic chordoma. Hum Genet. 2014 Oct;133(10):1289-97. doi: 10.1007/s00439-014-1463-z. Epub 2014 Jul 4. Citation on PubMed
  • Presneau N, Shalaby A, Ye H, Pillay N, Halai D, Idowu B, Tirabosco R, Whitwell D, Jacques TS, Kindblom LG, Bruderlein S, Moller P, Leithner A, Liegl B, Amary FM, Athanasou NN, Hogendoorn PC, Mertens F, Szuhai K, Flanagan AM. Role of the transcription factor T (brachyury) in the pathogenesis of sporadic chordoma: a genetic and functional-based study. J Pathol. 2011 Feb;223(3):327-35. doi: 10.1002/path.2816. Epub 2010 Nov 24. Citation on PubMed
  • Vujovic S, Henderson S, Presneau N, Odell E, Jacques TS, Tirabosco R, Boshoff C, Flanagan AM. Brachyury, a crucial regulator of notochordal development, is a novel biomarker for chordomas. J Pathol. 2006 Jun;209(2):157-65. doi: 10.1002/path.1969. Citation on PubMed
  • Yang XR, Ng D, Alcorta DA, Liebsch NJ, Sheridan E, Li S, Goldstein AM, Parry DM, Kelley MJ. T (brachyury) gene duplication confers major susceptibility to familial chordoma. Nat Genet. 2009 Nov;41(11):1176-8. doi: 10.1038/ng.454. Epub 2009 Oct 4. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.