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All Publications

  • Structures of vertebrate Patched and Smoothened reveal intimate links between cholesterol and Hedgehog signalling. Current opinion in structural biology Kowatsch, C. n., Woolley, R. E., Kinnebrew, M. n., Rohatgi, R. n., Siebold, C. n. 2019; 57: 204–14


    The Hedgehog (HH) signalling pathway is a cell-cell communication system that controls the patterning of multiple tissues during embryogenesis in metazoans. In adults, HH signals regulate tissue stem cells and regenerative responses. Abnormal signalling can cause birth defects and cancer. The HH signal is received on target cells by Patched (PTCH1), the receptor for HH ligands, and then transmitted across the plasma membrane by Smoothened (SMO). Recent structural and biochemical studies have pointed to a sterol lipid, likely cholesterol itself, as the elusive second messenger that communicates the HH signal between PTCH1 and SMO, thus linking ligand reception to transmembrane signalling.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/

    View details for PubMedID 31247512

  • CRISPR Screens Uncover Genes that Regulate Target Cell Sensitivity to the Morphogen Sonic Hedgehog. Developmental cell Pusapati, G. V., Kong, J. H., Patel, B. B., Krishnan, A. n., Sagner, A. n., Kinnebrew, M. n., Briscoe, J. n., Aravind, L. n., Rohatgi, R. n. 2018; 44 (1): 113–29.e8


    To uncover regulatory mechanisms in Hedgehog (Hh) signaling, we conducted genome-wide screens to identify positive and negative pathway components and validated top hits using multiple signaling and differentiation assays in two different cell types. Most positive regulators identified in our screens, including Rab34, Pdcl, and Tubd1, were involved in ciliary functions, confirming the central role for primary cilia in Hh signaling. Negative regulators identified included Megf8, Mgrn1, and an unannotated gene encoding a tetraspan protein we named Atthog. The function of these negative regulators converged on Smoothened (SMO), an oncoprotein that transduces the Hh signal across the membrane. In the absence of Atthog, SMO was stabilized at the cell surface and concentrated in the ciliary membrane, boosting cell sensitivity to the ligand Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) and consequently altering SHH-guided neural cell-fate decisions. Thus, we uncovered genes that modify the interpretation of morphogen signals by regulating protein-trafficking events in target cells.

    View details for PubMedID 29290584

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5792066