Holoprosencephaly (HPE) is the most common developmental defect of the forebrain in humans. Several distinct human genes for holoprosencephaly have now been identified. They include Sonic hedgehog (SHH), ZIC2, and SIX3. Many additional genes involved in forebrain development are rapidly being cloned and characterized in model vertebrate organisms. These include Patched (Ptc), Smoothened (Smo), cubitus interuptus (ci)/Gli, wingless (wg/Wnt, decapentaplegic (dpp)/BMP, Hedgehog interacting protein (Hip), nodal, Smads, One-eyed pinhead (Oep), and TG-Interacting Factor (TGIF). However, further analysis is needed before their roles in HPE can be established. Here we present an overview of the presently known genes causing human holoprosencephaly and describe candidate genes involved in forebrain development identified in other systems. A model is discussed for how these genes may interact within and between several different signaling pathways to direct the formation of the forebrain.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.