Sonic hedgehog expression in developing chicken digestive organs is regulated by epithelial-mesenchymal interactions

Dev Growth Differ. 1998 Feb;40(1):67-74. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-169x.1998.t01-5-00008.x.


Sonic hedgehog (Shh) gene encodes a secreted protein that acts as an important mediator of cell-cell interactions. A detailed analysis of Shh expression in the digestive organs of the chicken embryo was carried out. Shh expression in the endoderm begins at stage 7, when the formation of the foregut commences, and is found as narrow bands in the midgut. Shh expression around the anterior intestinal portal at stage 15 is restricted to the columnar endoderm lined by the thick splanchnic mesoderm, suggesting that the existence of thick splanchnic mesoderm might be necessary for Shh expression in the columnar endoderm. After the gut is closed, Shh expression is found universally in digestive epithelia, including the cecal epithelium. However, its expression ceases in the epithelium of the proventricular glands, the ductus choledochus and ductus pancreaticus that protrude from the main digestive duct. When the gizzard epithelium differentiated into glands under the influence of the proventricular mesenchyme, the glandular epithelium lost the ability to express Shh. These findings suggest that Shh expression in the epithelium may be regulated by surrounding mesenchyme throughout organogenesis of the digestive organs and is closely involved in epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in developing digestive organs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Culture Techniques
  • Digestive System / embryology*
  • Embryonic Induction
  • Endoderm / chemistry
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Mesoderm / physiology*
  • Pepsinogens / genetics
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Trans-Activators*


  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Pepsinogens
  • Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Trans-Activators