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Biochem Soc Trans. 1994 Aug;22(3):569-74.

Sonic hedgehog: a key mediator of anterior-posterior patterning of the limb and dorso-ventral patterning of axial embryonic structures.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.


Sonic hedgehog is expressed in several sites during embryogenesis which are known to be important in directing the development of neighbouring tissues, including Hensen's node, the notochord, the floor plate of the neural tube, and the posterior of the limb bud. A unity in signalling mechanisms utilized by these inducers was first indicated because they all can provide a source of limb polarizing activity, assayed by grafting into the anterior of a limb bud. The hypothesis that they share a common signal is substantiated by the fact that they all express Sonic. Moreover, ectopic expression of Sonic in vivo suggests that it is responsible for the polarizing activity of the ZPA and plays an important role in dorso-ventral patterning of the spinal cord. The isolation of Sonic heralds a new era in the investigation of the molecular mechanisms of these key inductive interactions in vertebrate development.

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