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ETD 28 A. Draw + Explain how the Hedge Hodge Pathway Works. B. How can it go wrong?
November 20, 2013 at 10:17am


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Francisco Perez
November 24, 2013 at 5:31pm

Student: Today I taught my mom about the HH pathway and how it works. I told her that the HH pathway regulates cell division and consists of Ptch and Smo. And how when Ptch becomes activated it will activate Smo and cause it to rise to the Cilium and activate Gli. However, the HH can go wrong by an uncontrollable amount of cell division which can cause health issues such as tumors.

Parent: Today my son taught me about the Hedgehog signaling pathway and what it does. He told me that Skin cancer can be a result of an excess amount of cell division via the HH signaling pathway. Also, he taught me about cyclopamine, which is a protein that can prevent cell differentation. Although it could stop cancer cells in adults it could be harmful to embryos considering they cannot make certain specialized cells. 

Tori McDermott Hale
November 24, 2013 at 6:25pm

Parent: What I found interesting was how the SHH acted in a positive way in the case of an embryo and reproduce quickly in the scaffolding, however when it was a cancerous cell it would have the opposite effect. I also found it interesting how the ligand would activate the PITCH and enter the cell with a vesicle. 

Student: When i talked to my mom about the Hedge Hog pathway works it really helped me clear up my thoughts. i was in a situation where i knew the answers and i really had to think about what way the Smooth and Pitch would move. After doing this with my mom i now understand how the Hedge Hog pathway works and how it is a positive and a negative thing.

Kelli Vetter
November 25, 2013 at 8:15pm

Parent: I find it interesting that the hedgehog pathway is turned on during the embryonic stage of life, while the pathway is turned off during the adult life. The patch receptor is an inhibiting receptor that blocks inhibition to the smooth receptor. This inhibition prevents cell division because the receptors are in a specific shape for the signaling molecule. The patch receptor is turned on when a signaling molecule (sonic) binds into the receptor which turns on and activates smooth and transcribing that message into cell division. I also learned that cell division can cause caner.

Student: Ultraviolet rays denatures cells because of the high-intensity light the UV gives off. This can denature the patch receptor which makes the sonic signaling molecule able to bind to patch which creates a chain reaction with the smooth receptor. The protein gli (carried by scaffolding proteins on smooth) can then be transcribed in the nucleus to create a protein message to divide cells. While discussing this with my mom, I didn't understand why the hedgehog pathway remains active in the human body when it can cause cancer. So I further researched , and I found out that the hedgehog pathway remains active in order to maintain the stem cell populations (which can replenish damaged tissues, and dying cells).

Sophie Wulfing
November 25, 2013 at 9:48pm

The Hedge Hodge pathway is the name given to the signaling pathway that is made for cell division in animals. Basically, if the inhibitor protein gets removed from the cell wall membrane, a SMO protein can replace it and cause rapid cell division which sometimes leads to cancer. Even though this may be harmful, the reason we have the Hedge Hodge pathway is so that we can develop as embryos. Research has been conducted to prevent cell division through the use of cyclopomine. Cyclopomine binds to the SMO protein preventing the rapid cell division leading to cancer.


I didn't go too deeply into the actual cellular process of the hedgehog pathway, which consists of a receptor/inhibitor protein called ptch. Meanwhile, there is a smo protein inside of a vesicle within the cell. this is the inactive hedgehog pathway. with the addition of an SHH Ligand, the ptch is removed through endo cytosis, and the SMO becomes intercellular. It moves to a Cilium and binds with the ligand GLl. This then initiates a scaffolding protein and begins rapid cell division. This can be stopped when Cyclopamind binds with SMO, therefore inactivating it to bind into the membrane. This can be good in that it could potentially stop cancer, but bad because it interrupts cell division of an embryo.

Jon Neil (Instructor)
December 02, 2013 at 3:58pm

Both Kelli and Tori did an excellent job of reflecting in their blogs about the challenges they faced  regarding teaching the HH pathway and how further research  and thinking help them in their teaching.  It is encouraging to see post from parents showing the level to which you have explained the HH pathway to them, indicating the students high level of comprehension. Especially important in some of the student post, is the description of how the process of teaching your parent helped to clear up the process in your own mind.  The complexity of the HH pathway with Endo and exocytosis to become activated, gives a great example of how hard it has been for researches to determine the control mechanisms in place for cell signalling to work.  The level of communication skills that you are practicing with your parents are the very skills that these teams of researchers have had to utilize.   Another analogy to share with your parents to help them understanding the HH Pathway is that of the Rube Goldberg machine analogy.  Relating this to cell signalling pathways can help them to frame the web of protein interactions in their mind.

Kevin Turek
December 31, 2013 at 9:56am

Parent: The hedgehog pathway lays dormant in our bodies for the most part but when turned on it can cause cancer in the form of tumors. When the inhibitor protein ptch is activated by the shh ligand, it sends smo to the cilium where it will connect with gli and other relay proteins. previously it was believed the SMO is on the out side but really is held in a vesicle down below.

Student: I had a really hard time explaining this one. My mom honestly knew more then me about this then I did. I had to go online and research a little more. Yes I used Wikipedia, and it gave me some info but the stuff we researched in class seemed more useful.

Madison Boggan
November 22, 2014 at 4:08pm

Parent: The hedgehog pathway is a path that is normally turned off and should be turned off in adults. However, it should be turned on in embryos and developing babies because this helps their cells divide. If this isn't turned on then a baby wouldn't have enough cells through division to become specialized cells and form a normal, healthy baby. If the pathway is turned on later in life though it can cause cancer because of too much cell production. If smoothen is active and moves and migrates up into the cilium then this is where problems persists as many cell signals will be released into the cell when gli is released. Wow! This is a confusing one. 

Student: This was very hard to explain to my mom as this is a concept that builds on a lot of the ideas that we have spent a lot of class time on but it also stills very complex to me so I imagine it was overwhelming to my mom too. The concept of the HH being turned on for babies and off for adults was clear to both of us  because cellular division for babies is good but for adults is bad. The pathway involves patched and smoothen. It is typically inhibited and off but when on, smoothen moves and eventually many cell signals are released. At the very least, we understand that the hedgehog pathway is involved with cellular division! 

Joanne Kunze
November 22, 2014 at 11:21pm

Parent: The most interesting part of this discussion to me is the general description of the different proteins.  UV can alter ptch, allowing SMO to lodge in the cell membrane, become active and stimulate cell division, possibly leading to cancerous growth.  Cyclopamine can interact with SMO slowing the cell division.  

Student: Basically why I chose this ETD was because I found it to be such a fascinating subject. In biology, up to this point, we had learned that "cells talk to each other" and that they magically make things happen, or bad things happen, like cancer. The cell signaling unit was so eye-opening in general, that I really was excited to teach this to my parents. Teaching this subject really solidified the HedgeHog pathway for me, as well as helped me to review the specific names of molecules and proteins that are involved. Additionally, my parents asked questions involving general cancer questions (e.g. Are all cancers caused through the activation of the HH pathway? How does radiation or chemotherapy work? Do they act the same way as cyclopamine?) Obviously, I have some research to do. But for now, this one was actually pretty fun.

Jacob Michaels
January 22, 2018 at 9:08pm

Parent- The hedgehog pathway transmits information to embryonic cells required for proper cell differentiation.  When you are an adult the pathway should be off.  When you are in embryonic state it should be on.  If the pathway turns on when you are an adult, it can result in rapid cell division.  A way to turn it on as an adult would be UV rays from tanning beds, resulting in basal cell carcinoma.  The HH pathway has two cell- surface transmembrane proteins, abbreviated as PTCH and SMO.  When PTCH is activated, it activates SMO.  Cyclopamine is a chemical that drastically effects the HH pathway.  Cyclopamine inhibits Smo.  When Cyclopamine is introduced in embryonic state the birth defects are usually fatal.

Student- I did my best to explain the HH pathway to my father as it is a complex topic. He seemed to understand well. I can identify with great detail and accuracy when it should be on/off and what happens if it is on/off and how Cyclopamine effects it but Ptch and Smo are tricky.

Nolan Peters
January 23, 2018 at 8:38pm

Parent: I found this Hedgehog Pathway interesting because of how it works in opposite and counterproductive ways to cancerous cells as opposed to noncancerous cells. It should not be open in adults because there doesn't need to be quick cell division, but I know cell division causes cancer so it makes sense how the Hedgehog Pathway can cause it. It was fun to know that scientific researchers named this partially after Sonic The Hedgehog.

Student: Explaining this topic to my parents hit home because my mom's father died of cancer and she has always been interested to know more about the disease and how it works. It was good to review this older concept as well. The ways that Ptch, Smo, and Cyclopamine work are complicated but I'm getting there with review. And my dad enjoyed the Sonic The Hedgehog reference.

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