In this issue of the JCI, Niedermaier and colleagues demonstrate that a chromosomal inversion in mice results in dysregulation of Sonic hedgehog (Shh), such that Shh is ectopically expressed in a skeletogenic domain typically occupied by Indian hedgehog (Ihh). This molecular reversal eliminates phalangeal joint spaces, and consequently, Short digits (Dsh) heterozygotes (Dsh/+) have brachydactyly (shortened digits). Ihh is normally downregulated in regions that will become the joint space, but in Dsh/+ mice, Shh bypasses this regulatory control and persists; accordingly, cells maintain their chondrogenic fate and the developed digits are shorter than normal. The significance of these data extends far beyond the field of skeletal biology: they hint at the very real possibility that the endogenous Shh regulatory region contains a repressor designed to segregate the activity of Shh from Ihh. The existence of such a repressor provides a window into the distant past, revealing that Shh and Ihh must once have shared responsibilities in establishing tissue boundaries and orchestrating vertebrate tissue morphogenesis.
Luis de la Fuente, Jill A. Helms
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.