The Hedgehog signalling pathway controls numerous developmental processes. In response to Hedgehog, Smoothened (Smo), a seven-pass transmembrane protein, orchestrates pathway signalling and controls transcription factor activation. In the absence of Hedgehog, the receptor Patched indirectly inhibits Smo in a catalytic manner. Many questions surrounding Smo activation and signalling remain. Recent findings in Drosophila and vertebrate systems have provided strong evidence that Smo acts as a G-protein-coupled receptor. We discuss the role and regulation of Smo and reassess similarities between Smo and G-protein-coupled receptors. We also examine recently identified members of the invertebrate and vertebrate Smo signalling cascades that are typical components of G-protein-coupled receptor pathways. Greater understanding of the mechanisms of Smo activation and its signalling pathways will allow implementation of novel strategies to target disorders related to disruption of Hh signalling.
Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.