Zebrafish Forebrain Development

Our analysis of zebrafish forebrain mutants led to the discovery that the small protein Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) is a critical player in the early induction of the pituitary placode, as well as in the differentiation of a subset of endocrine cell types. This role for Shh is conserved across vertebrates, with defects in human Shh signaling leading to congenital disorders affecting pituitary development. This research is contributing to our understanding of human birth defects affecting ventral forebrain and pituitary formation.