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Bioessays. 2002 Feb;24(2):157-65.

Sonic Hedgehog as a mediator of long-range signaling.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0524, USA.


The ability of Hedgehog (Hh) proteins to exert their biological effects is regulated by a series of post-translational processes. These processes include an intramolecular cleavage, covalent addition of cholesterol and/or palmitate, and conversion into a multimeric freely diffusible form. The processing of Hh proteins affects their trafficking, potency, and ability to signal over many cell diameters. Accordingly, the loss of gene products required for these processes abrogates the Hh proteins' abilities to exert their effects, which can be long range, short range, or both. We review here recent evidence demonstrating that Hh proteins are directly responsible for their long-range biological effects. Additionally, we integrate both genetic and biochemical data to delineate a model illustrating how the unusual biochemistry of Hh family members may allow them to act as morphogens, signaling over both short and long distances.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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