Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling is critical for various developmental processes including specification of the midbrain dopamine (mDA) neurons in the ventral mesencephalon (vMes). While the timing of Shh and its response gene Gli1 segregates mDA neurons, their overall lineage contribution to mDA neurons heavily overlaps. Here, we demonstrate that the same set of mDA neuron progenitors sequentially respond to Shh signaling (Gli1 expression), induce Shh expression, and then turn off Shh responsiveness. Thus, at any given developmental stage, cells rarely co-express Shh and Gli1. Using ShhCre:GFP mice to delete the Smoothened receptor in the Shh pathway, we demonstrate that the loss of Shh signaling in Shh expressing cells results in a transient increase in proliferation and subsequent depletion of mDA neuron progenitors in the posterior vMes due to the facilitated cell cycle exit. Moreover, the change in duration of Shh signaling in vMes progenitors altered the timing of the contribution to the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) mDA neurons. Taken together, our investigation on the relationship between the Shh-secreting and -responding cells revealed an intricate regulation of induction and cessation of Shh signaling that influences the distribution of mDA neurons in the VTA and SNc.
|Hayes, Lindsay; Ralls, Sherry; Wang, Hui et al. (2013) Duration of Shh signaling contributes to mDA neuron diversity. Dev Biol 374:115-26|