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Mol Cell Neurosci. 1999 May;13(5):348-61.

Modulation of early but not later stages of programmed cell death in embryonic avian spinal cord by sonic hedgehog.

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Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 27157, USA.


Sonic hedgehog (Shh) is a secreted glycoprotein expressed by the notochord and floor plate that is involved in the induction and specification of ventral phenotypes in the vertebrate neural tube. Recently, Shh has also been shown to promote the survival of cultured rat embryo ventral brain and spinal cord cells. We have examined whether Shh can promote the survival of chick embryo neurons in vivo or in vitro. In the chick, Shh is expressed in notochord, floor plate, and ventral neural tube/spinal cord at several stages at which programmed cell death (PCD) occurs. However, the administration of exogenous Shh to embryos in vivo or to motoneuron cultures at these stages failed to promote the survival of several different neuronal populations, including spinal motoneurons, spinal interneurons, sympathetic preganglionic neurons, sensory neurons, and neuronal precursor cells. Rather, at the earliest stage of PCD examined here (embryonic day 3) Shh selectively induced the death of ventral neuronal precursors and floor-plate cells, resulting in a net loss of cells in the neural tube. Altered concentrations of Shh induce aberrant phenotypes that are removed by PCD. Accordingly, normal PCD in the early neural tube may play a role in dorsal-ventral patterning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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