Sonic Hedgehog Signalling during Tooth Morphogenesis

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


The Sonic hedgehog (Shh) peptide belongs to a small family of signalling molecules that have a complex mode of action and wide range of function during normal vertebrate development. In common with many regions of the embryo, Shh is expressed in the developing tooth in a regionally restricted manner. Specifically, Shh expression is localised to the epithelial component of the tooth germ at various stages during the odontogenic process; however, both tooth-forming epithelium and mesenchyme are responsive to the signal. A number of studies have analysed the role of Shh during tooth development, utilising both culture based and genetic systems, and it is dear that this signalling pathway is essential for normal development of the tooth. During the initiation of odontogenesis, localised signalling is important for growth and development of the tooth bud, whilst later during morphogenesis, Shh plays a role in cellular differentiation and polarization in the epithelial component of the tooth germ. These complex interactions are mediated by intra-epithelial and epithelial-mesenchymal signalling by Shh throughout these stages of tooth development.


Sonic Hedgehog Tooth Germ Tooth Development Oral Epithelium Enamel Organ 
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Copyright information

© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Craniofacial Development, GKT Dental InstituteKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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