Hedgehog Signalling in Prostate Morphogenesis

Part of the Molecular Biology Intelligence Unit book series (MBIU)


The prostate gland has not traditionally been a popular model system in developmental biology, and mechanistic studies of prostate morphogenesis have generally lagged behind work in other well-characterised systems. The mesenchymal-epithelial interactions in prostate development and the role of testosterone as an inducer of prostate morphogenesis have certainly been a subject of enduring interest, but the lack of molecular markers for prostate differentiation and of transgenic models with prostate-specific mutations have hindered molecular studies. This is changing, and recent findings have catalysed rapid advances in our understanding of prostate development. Studies have shown striking parallels between morphogenetic signals that regulate prostate morphogenesis and paradigms developed from work done in classic developmental model systems. Several growth factors such as fibroblast growth factor 10, bone morphogenetic protein 4 and transforming growth factor β1 apparendy play similar roles in the foetal prostate as in other embryonic structures. A major signalling molecule in diverse developmental systems, Sonic hedgehog (Shh) has emerged as a subject of paramount interest in prostate biology. This is in part because of its key role in prostate ductal morphogenesis and differentiation but, largely, because Shh has recently been identified as a factor that promotes human prostate cancer growth. Therefore, the hedgehog signalling pathway is a promising target for therapies to slow or arrest prostate tumour growth.


Sonic Hedgehog Ventral Prostate Urogenital Sinus Ductal Morphogenesis Prostate Development 
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Copyright information

© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsNorthwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Children’s Memorial Research CenterChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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