Sonic Hedgehog

Sonic hedgehog is a protein encoded for by the SHH gene. This signaling molecule is key in regulating embryonic morphogenesis in all different types of animals. SHH controls organogenesis and the organization of the central nervous system, limbs, digits and many other parts of the body. Sonic hedgehog is a morphogen that patterns the developing embryo using a concentration gradient characterized by the French Flag model. This model has a non-uniform distribution of SHH molecules which governs different cell fates according to concentration. Mutations in this gene can cause holoprosencephaly, a failure of splitting in the cerebral hemispheres, as demonstrated in an experiment using SHH knock-out mice in which the forebrain midline failed to develop and instead only a single fused telencephalic vesicle resulted. Sonic hedgehog still plays a role in differentiation, proliferation, and maintenance of adult tissues.

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