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Development. 2006 May;133(9):1799-809. Epub 2006 Mar 29.

Sonic hedgehog regulates Gli activator and repressor functions with spatial and temporal precision in the mid/hindbrain region.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Developmental Genetics Program, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, 540 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


The midbrain and anterior hindbrain offer an ideal system in which to study the coordination of tissue growth and patterning in three dimensions. Two organizers that control anteroposterior (AP) and dorsoventral (DV) development are known, and the regulation of AP patterning by Fgf8 has been studied in detail. Much less is known about the mechanisms that control mid/hindbrain development along the DV axis. Using a conditional mutagenesis approach, we have determined how the ventrally expressed morphogen sonic hedgehog (Shh) directs mid/hindbrain development over time and space through positive regulation of the Gli activators (GliA) and inhibition of the Gli3 repressor (Gli3R). We have discovered that Gli2A-mediated Shh signaling sequentially induces ventral neurons along the medial to lateral axis, and only before midgestation. Unlike in the spinal cord, Shh signaling plays a major role in patterning of dorsal structures (tectum and cerebellum). This function of Shh signaling involves inhibition of Gli3R and continues after midgestation. Gli3R levels also regulate overall growth of the mid/hindbrain region, and this largely involves the suppression of cell death. Furthermore, inhibition of Gli3R by Shh signaling is required to sustain expression of the AP organizer gene Fgf8. Thus, the precise spatial and temporal regulation of Gli2A and Gli3R by Shh is instrumental in coordinating mid/hindbrain development in three dimensions.

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