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Receptor-dependent Hedgehog Signaling in the Epithelial Stem Cell Niche

To investigate how Hedgehog signaling regulates the epithelial stem cell niche and controls stem cell differentiation within the cervical loop (a specific epithelial structure at the apical side of the tooth germ), researchers from the lab of Anamaria Balic (University of Helsinki, Finland) employed pharmacological attenuation of Hedgehog signaling during in vitro organ and cell culture. Binder at al. now report that the simultaneous Hedgehog pathway-mediated regulation of stem cells, cell adhesion, and differentiation in the tooth epithelium relates to functional differences between the Ptch1 and Ptch2 receptors, which are additionally potentiated by the activity of the Dhh Hedgehog ligand. See STEM CELLS now for more on a study that may impact the understanding of the outcomes of Hedgehog signaling in other tissues/organs and the development of novel treatments strategies for a range of disease/disorders.