Hedgehog and Bmp genes are coexpressed at many diverse sites of cell-cell interaction in the mouse embryo

Dev Biol. 1995 Nov;172(1):126-38. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1995.0010.


The mouse Hedgehog gene family consists of three members, Sonic, Desert, and Indian hedgehog (Shh, Dhh, and Ihh, respectively), relatives of the Drosophila segment polarity gene, hedgehog (hh). All encode secreted proteins implicated in cell-cell interactions. One of these, Shh, is expressed in and mediates the signaling activities of several key organizing centers which regulate central nervous system, limb, and somite polarity. However, nothing is known of the roles of Dhh or Ihh, nor of the possible function of Shh during later embryogenesis. We have used serial-section in situ hybridization to obtain a detailed profile of mouse Hh gene expression from 11.5 to 16.5 days post coitum. Apart from the gut, which expresses both Shh and Ihh, there is no overlap in the various Hh expression domains. Shh is predominantly expressed in epithelia at numerous sites of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, including the tooth, hair, whisker, rugae, gut, bladder, urethra, vas deferens, and lung, Dhh in Schwann and Sertoli cell precursors, and Ihh in gut and cartilage. Thus, it is likely that Hh signaling plays a central role in a diverse array of morphogenetic processes. Furthermore, we have compared Hh expression with that of a second family of signaling molecules, the Bone morphogenetic proteins (Bmps), vertebrate relatives of decapentaplegic, a target of the Drosophila Hh signaling pathway. The frequent expression of Bmp-2, -4, and -6 in similar or adjacent cell populations suggests a conserved role for Hh/Bmp interactions in vertebrate development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Cell Communication*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / physiology*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Multigene Family*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators*


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • hh protein, Drosophila