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Dev Biol. 2001 Oct 1;238(1):157-67.

cGMP enhances the sonic hedgehog response in neural plate cells.

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Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


The elaboration of distinct cell types during development is dependent on a small number of inductive molecules. Among these inducers is Sonic hedgehog (Shh), which, in combination with other factors, patterns the dorsoventral (DV) axis of the nervous system. The response of a cell is dependent in part on its complement of cyclic nucleotides. cAMP antagonizes Shh signaling, and we examined the influence of cGMP on the Shh response. Cells in chick neural plate explants respond to Shh by differentiating into ventral neural-cell types. Exposure of intermediate-zone explants to cGMP analogs enhanced their response to Shh in a dose-dependent manner. The Shh response was also enhanced in dorsal-zone explants exposed to chick natriuretic peptide (chNP), which stimulates cGMP production by membrane-bound guanylate cyclase (mGC). Addition of chNP to intermediate-zone explants did not enhance the Shh response, consistent with a reported lack of mGC in this region of the neural tube. Finally, the presence of a nitric oxide (NO)-sensitive guanylate cyclase (GC) was established by demonstrating cGMP immunoreactivity in neural tissue following NO stimulation of whole chick embryos. Intracellular levels of cGMP and cAMP may thus provide a mechanism through which other factors modulate the Shh response during neural development.

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