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desert hedgehog OKDB#: 2847
 Symbols: DHH Species: human
 Synonyms: GDXYM, HHG-3, SRXY7  Locus: 12q13.12 in Homo sapiens

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General Comment NCBI Summary: This gene encodes a member of the hedgehog family. The hedgehog gene family encodes signaling molecules that play an important role in regulating morphogenesis. This protein is predicted to be made as a precursor that is autocatalytically cleaved; the N-terminal portion is soluble and contains the signalling activity while the C-terminal portion is involved in precursor processing. More importantly, the C-terminal product covalently attaches a cholesterol moiety to the N-terminal product, restricting the N-terminal product to the cell surface and preventing it from freely diffusing throughout the organism. Defects in this protein have been associated with partial gonadal dysgenesis (PGD) accompanied by minifascicular polyneuropathy. This protein may be involved in both male gonadal differentiation and perineurial development. [provided by RefSeq, May 2010]
General function Ligand, Growth factor
Cellular localization Secreted
Ovarian function Primary follicle growth
Expression regulated by Growth Factors/ cytokines, GDF9
Ovarian localization Granulosa
Comment Wijgerde M, et al reported hedgehog signaling in mouse ovary: Ihh and Dhh from granulosa cells induce target gene expression in developing theca cells. Follicle development in the mammalian ovary requires interactions between the oocyte, granulosa cells, and theca cells, co-ordinating gametogenesis and steroidogenesis. Here, we show that granulosa cells of growing follicles in mouse ovary act as a source of hedgehog signaling. Expression of indian hedgehog (Ihh) and desert hedgehog (Dhh) mRNAs initiates in granulosa cells at the primary follicle stage, and we find induced expression of the hedgehog target genes Ptch1 and Gli1, in the surrounding pre-theca cell compartment. Cyclopamine, a highly specific hedgehog signaling antagonist, inhibits this induced expression of target genes, in cultured neonatal mouse ovaries. The theca cell compartment remains a target of hedgehog signaling throughout follicle development, showing induced expression of the hedgehog target genes Ptch1, Ptch2, Hip1, and Gli1. In peri-ovulatory follicles, a dynamic synchrony between loss of hedgehog expression and loss of induced target gene expression is observed. Oocytes are unable to respond to hedgehog, since they lack expression of the essential signal transducer Smo (smoothened). The present results point to a prominent role of hedgehog signaling in the communication between granulosa cells and developing theca cells.///////The hedgehog-patched signaling pathway and function in the mammalian ovary: a novel role for hedgehog proteins in stimulating proliferation and steroidogenesis of theca cells. Spicer LJ et al. (2009) The expression of hedgehog (Hh) genes, their receptor, and the co-receptor in mice, rat, and bovine ovaries were investigated. RT-PCR of ovarian transcripts in mice showed amplification of transcripts for Indian (Ihh) and desert (Dhh) Hh, patched 1 (Ptch1), and smoothened (Smo) genes. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR and northern blot analyses showed that whole ovarian Ihh and Dhh transcripts decreased 4-24 h after hCG versus 0-48 h after pregnant mares serum gonadotrophin treatment in mice, whereas mouse Ptch1 and Smo transcripts were expressed throughout the gonadotropin treatments. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) revealed that the expression of the Hh-patched signaling system with Ihh mRNA abundance in granulosa cells was greater, whereas Smo and Ptch1 mRNA abundance was less in theca cells of small versus large follicles of cattle. In cultured rat and bovine theca-interstitial cells, qRT-PCR analyses revealed that the abundance of Gli1 and Ptch1 mRNAs were increased (P<0.05) with sonic hedgehog (SHH) treatment. Additional studies using cultured bovine theca cells indicated that SHH induces proliferation and androstenedione production. IGF1 decreased Ihh mRNA abundance in bovine granulosa cells. The expression and regulation of Ihh transcripts in granulosa cells and Ptch1 mRNA in theca cells suggest a potential paracrine role of this system in bovine follicular development. This study illustrates for the first time Hh activation of Gli1 transcriptional factor in theca cells and its stimulation of theca cell proliferation and androgen biosynthesis.//////////////////
Follicle stages Primary, Secondary, Antral, Preovulatory
Mutations 2 mutations

Species: mouse
Mutation name:
type: null mutation
fertility: infertile - ovarian defect
Comment: Lineage specification of ovarian theca cells requires multicellular interactions via oocyte and granulosa cells. Liu C et al. (2015) Organogenesis of the ovary is a highly orchestrated process involving multiple lineage determination of ovarian surface epithelium, granulosa cells and theca cells. Although the sources of ovarian surface epithelium and granulosa cells are known, the origin(s) of theca progenitor cells have not been definitively identified. Here we show that theca cells derive from two sources: Wt1(+) cells indigenous to the ovary and Gli1(+) mesenchymal cells that migrate from the mesonephros. These progenitors acquire theca lineage marker Gli1 in response to paracrine signals Desert hedgehog (Dhh) and Indian hedgehog (Ihh) from granulosa cells. Ovaries lacking Dhh/Ihh exhibit theca layer loss, blunted steroid production, arrested folliculogenesis and failure to form corpora lutea. Production of Dhh/Ihh in granulosa cells requires growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) from the oocyte. Our studies provide the first genetic evidence for the origins of theca cells and reveal a multicellular interaction critical for the formation of a functional theca.//////////////////

Species: mouse
Mutation name:
type: null mutation
fertility: infertile - ovarian defect
Comment: Reproductive, physiological, and molecular outcomes in female mice deficient in Dhh and Ihh. Liu C et al. (2018) Ovarian development requires coordinate communications between oocytes, granulosa cells, and theca cells. Two Hedgehog (Hh) pathway ligands, desert (Dhh) and indian hedgehog (Ihh), are produced by the granulosa cells and work together to regulate theca cell specification and development. Mice lacking both Dhh and Ihh resulted in the loss of normal ovarian function and raised the question of which biological actions are specifically controlled by each ligand during folliculogenesis. By comparing the reproductive fitness, hormonal profiles, and ovarian transcriptomes between control, Dhh single knockout, Ihh single knockout, and Dhh/Ihh double knockout mice, we examined the specific roles of Dhh and Ihh in these processes. Dhh/Ihh double knockout females were infertile due to a lack of theca cells and their steroid product androgen. Although both Dhh and Ihh single knockout mice were fertile with normal folliculogenesis, they had decreased androgen production and alterations in their ovarian transcriptomes. Absence of Ihh led to aberrant steroidogenesis and elevated inflammation responses, which were not found in Dhh single KO ovaries, implicating that IHH has a greater impact than DHH on the activation of the Hh signaling pathway in the ovary. Our findings provide insight into not only how the Hedgehog pathway influences folliculogenesis, but also the distinct and overlapping roles of Dhh and Ihh in supporting ovarian development.//////////////////

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created: May 11, 2005, 11:16 a.m. by: hsueh   email:
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last update: May 24, 2018, 9:20 a.m. by: hsueh    email:

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