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Cell. 1994 Feb 25;76(4):761-75.

Floor plate and motor neuron induction by vhh-1, a vertebrate homolog of hedgehog expressed by the notochord.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032.


The differentiation of distinct cell types in the ventral neural tube depends on local inductive signals from the notochord. We have isolated a vertebrate homolog of the Drosophila segment polarity gene hedgehog (hh) from zebrafish and rat, termed vhh-1. vhh-1 is expressed in the node, notochord, floor plate, and posterior limb bud mesenchyme. Each of these cell groups has floor plate inducing activity, suggesting that the vhh-1 gene may encode a floor plate-inducing molecule. Widespread expression of rat vhh-1 in frog embryos leads to ectopic floor plate differentiation in the neural tube. In vitro tests for the signaling functions of vhh-1 demonstrate that COS cells expressing the rat vhh-1 gene induce floor plate and motor neuron differentiation in neural plate explants. vhh-1 may, therefore, contribute to the floor plate and motor neuron inducing activities of the notochord.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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