The development of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and its associated parenchymal organs depends on Hedgehog signals from the endoderm to the surrounding mesoderm. During development, Hedgehog signaling is essential for patterning the GI tract along anterior-posterior (A-P), dorsal-ventral (D-V), and radial axes, as well as in maintenance of stem cells. Our knowledge about these roles for Hedgehog signaling is derived from studies of developmental defects that result from disrupted or activated Hedgehog signaling in model organisms including mouse, chick, and frog. These studies provide evidence for distinct roles of specific Hedgehog ligands in GI development. Studies in model organisms have also elucidated how Hedgehog signaling may function in development and function of the GI tract in humans. Several diseases and congenital syndromes are known to result from genetic defects in Hedgehog signaling components, and this pathway may ultimately prove to be an important target for future diagnostic and therapeutic tools.
Keywords: Hedgehog Signaling, Somatostatin, Hedgehog, Desert hegehog, Bone morphogenetic protein, Smith-lemli-opitz syndrome, Greig cephalopolysyndactyly
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