Hedgehog (Hh) signaling in vertebrates controls patterning and differentiation of a broad range of tissues during development. The Hh receptor Patched (Ptc) is a critical regulator of signaling, maintaining active repression of the pathway in the absence of stimulation, limiting excess diffusion of ligand, and providing an efficient negative feedback mechanism for fine-tuning the responsiveness of receiving cells. Two distinct Ptc genes have been isolated from several vertebrates. Here, we describe the cloning of a second Ptc gene from chick (Ptc2). We show that Ptc1 and Ptc2 are both upregulated at sites of active Hh signaling but that the expression patterns of these genes only partially overlap, thus providing distinct readouts of Hh pathway stimulation. We also show that chick Ptc2 is expressed in the posterior apical ectodermal ridge (AER) of the limb bud in a pattern similar to Fgf4 and that the induction of Ptc2 within the AER, like that of Fgf4, is mediated via antagonism of BMP signaling. The differential responsiveness of cells to Hh pathway stimulation (as marked by the differential induction of Ptc genes) suggests heterogeneity in the mechanisms by which Hh signals are transduced within different populations of receiving cells.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.