Dispatched and scube mediate the efficient secretion of the cholesterol-modified hedgehog ligand

Cell Rep. 2012 Aug 30;2(2):308-20. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.07.010. Epub 2012 Aug 16.


The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway plays critical roles in metazoan development and in cancer. How the Hh ligand is secreted and spreads to distant cells is unclear, given its covalent modification with a hydrophobic cholesterol molecule, which makes it stick to membranes. We demonstrate that Hh ligand secretion from vertebrate cells is accomplished via two distinct and synergistic cholesterol-dependent binding events, mediated by two proteins that are essential for vertebrate Hh signaling: the membrane protein Dispatched (Disp) and a member of the Scube family of secreted proteins. Cholesterol modification is sufficient for a heterologous protein to interact with Scube and to be secreted in a Scube-dependent manner. Disp and Scube recognize different structural aspects of cholesterol similarly to how Niemann-Pick disease proteins 1 and 2 interact with cholesterol, suggesting a hand-off mechanism for transferring Hh from Disp to Scube. Thus, Disp and Scube cooperate to dramatically enhance the secretion and solubility of the cholesterol-modified Hh ligand.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Animals
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cholesterol / genetics
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Hedgehog Proteins / genetics
  • Hedgehog Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Niemann-Pick C1 Protein
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / metabolism


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • NPC1 protein, human
  • NPC2 protein, human
  • Niemann-Pick C1 Protein
  • Npc1 protein, mouse
  • Npc2 protein, mouse
  • Proteins
  • SCUBE2 protein, human
  • SHH protein, human
  • Scube2 protein, mouse
  • Shh protein, mouse
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • dispatched protein, mouse
  • Cholesterol