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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Oct 23;98(22):12521-6. Epub 2001 Oct 9.

Sonic hedgehog restricts adhesion and migration of neural crest cells independently of the Patched- Smoothened-Gli signaling pathway.

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Laboratoire de Biologie du Développement, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche, 7622, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 9 Quai Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France.


In the vertebrate embryo, neural cell types are organized spatially along the dorsoventral axis of the neural tube and differ by expression of cell-intrinsic determinants and by their adhesive and locomotory properties. Thus, dorsally, neural crest cells (NCC) show a strong propensity to disperse and migrate, whereas cells situated ventrally are highly cohesive and poorly motile. Members of the bone morphogenetic proteins have been shown to exert a dual role in the specification of dorsal neuroepithelial cells and in the dispersion of NCCs. To test whether Sonic hedgehog (Shh), another signaling molecule involved in the patterning of the ventral neural tube, might also contribute to the control of the adhesive and migratory potential of neuroepithelial cells, we analyzed the effect of ectopic Shh on NCC dispersion from neural tube explants cultured in vitro. The addition of Shh to the migration substrate of NCC caused inhibition of their dispersion. The effect of Shh on cell migration was reversible and was not accounted for by alterations of the specification, delamination, proliferation, and survival of NCCs but could be essentially attributed to a decreased cell-substrate adhesion mediated by integrins. In addition, Shh activity on cell migration was mediated by a specific N-terminal region of the molecule and was independent from the signaling cascade elicited by the Patched-Smoothened receptor and involving the Gli transcription factors. Our study therefore reveals an unanticipated role for Shh in regulating adhesion and migration of neuroepithelial cells that is discernable from its inductive, mitogenic, and trophic functions.

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