Secretion of the Hedgehog morphogen induces different cell fates over the short and long ranges during developmental patterning. Mature Hedgehog carries hydrophobic palmitic acid and cholesterol modifications essential for its correct spread. The long-range activity of Hedgehog raises questions about how a dually lipidated protein can spread in the hydrophilic environment of the extracellular space. There is compelling experimental evidence in favour of the existence of several different carriers for Hedgehog transportation, via very different routes. This suggests that different accessory proteins and cellular machineries may be involved in the specific release of Hedgehog. I suggest that Hh carriers may work in parallel within a given cell and that developmental context may condition the choice of Hh carrier in secreting cells.
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