Orchestrating ontogenesis: variations on a theme by sonic hedgehog

Nat Rev Genet. 2006 Nov;7(11):841-50. doi: 10.1038/nrg1969.


Embryonic development is an emergent process in which increasing complexity is generated by sequential cellular interactions. Recently, it has become clear that such interactions are mediated by just a few families of signalling molecules; but how does this limited repertoire elicit the diversity of form that is characteristic of multicellular organisms? Here we review the various ways in which a member of one such family, the sonic hedgehog (SHH) protein, is deployed during embryonic development. These examples of SHH function provide paradigms for inductive interactions that should help to inform attempts to recapitulate cellular programming and organogenesis in vitro.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Embryonic Development
  • Feedback
  • Hedgehog Proteins / genetics*
  • Hedgehog Proteins / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vertebrates


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • hh protein, Drosophila