A new receptor for the sonic hedgehog protein is described online in the 02 November 2006 issue of Nature (Vol. 444, No. 7115).
The molecule helps control nerve growth, so it’s hoped that the discovery will aid the development of new therapies for spinal cord injuries.
Early in development, nerve cells must extend connections to specific target cells. The secreted protein sonic hedgehog has a key role in this process, but the underlying mechanisms are murky. Ami Okada and colleagues have discovered a cell surface protein, called Boc, which binds sonic hedgehog and helps spinal cord connections to develop properly.
Sonic hedgehog signalling is involved in the normal development of numerous organs and tissues, and in the development of certain cancers. The components that make up its signalling pathway are therefore of interest to biologists in many different disciplines.
Ami Okada (Stanford Medical School, Palo Alto, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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