Sonic hedgehog regulates proliferation and differentiation of mesenchymal cells in the mouse metanephric kidney

Development. 2002 Nov;129(22):5301-12. doi: 10.1242/dev.129.22.5301.


Signaling by the ureteric bud epithelium is essential for survival, proliferation and differentiation of the metanephric mesenchyme during kidney development. Most studies that have addressed ureteric signaling have focused on the proximal, branching, ureteric epithelium. We demonstrate that sonic hedgehog is expressed in the ureteric epithelium of the distal, non-branching medullary collecting ducts and continues into the epithelium of the ureter -- the urinary outflow tract that connects the kidney with the bladder. Upregulation of patched 1, the sonic hedgehog receptor and a downstream target gene of the signaling pathway in the mesenchyme surrounding the distal collecting ducts and the ureter suggests that sonic hedgehog acts as a paracrine signal. In vivo and in vitro analyses demonstrate that sonic hedgehog promotes mesenchymal cell proliferation, regulates the timing of differentiation of smooth muscle progenitor cells, and sets the pattern of mesenchymal differentiation through its dose-dependent inhibition of smooth muscle formation. In addition, we also show that bone morphogenetic protein 4 is a downstream target gene of sonic hedgehog signaling in kidney stroma and ureteral mesenchyme, but does not mediate the effects of sonic hedgehog in the control of mesenchymal proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Division / genetics
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Hydronephrosis / embryology
  • Hydronephrosis / genetics
  • Integrases / genetics
  • Kidney / abnormalities
  • Kidney / embryology*
  • Kidney Diseases / embryology
  • Mesoderm / cytology*
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscle, Smooth / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Urothelium / embryology
  • Urothelium / metabolism
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Bmp4 protein, mouse
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Hoxb7 protein, mouse
  • Shh protein, mouse
  • Trans-Activators
  • Viral Proteins
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases