GLI transcriptional repression is inert prior to Hedgehog pathway activation

Rachel K. Lex, Weiqiang Zhou, Zhicheng Ji, Kristin N. Falkenstein, Kaleigh E. Schuler, Kathryn E. Windsor, Joseph D. Kim, Hongkai Ji, Steven A. Vokes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Hedgehog (HH) pathway regulates a spectrum of developmental processes through the transcriptional mediation of GLI proteins. GLI repressors control tissue patterning by preventing sub-threshold activation of HH target genes, presumably even before HH induction, while lack of GLI repression activates most targets. Despite GLI repression being central to HH regulation, it is unknown when it first becomes established in HH-responsive tissues. Here, we investigate whether GLI3 prevents precocious gene expression during limb development. Contrary to current dogma, we find that GLI3 is inert prior to HH signaling. While GLI3 binds to most targets, loss of Gli3 does not increase target gene expression, enhancer acetylation or accessibility, as it does post-HH signaling. Furthermore, GLI repression is established independently of HH signaling, but after its onset. Collectively, these surprising results challenge current GLI pre-patterning models and demonstrate that GLI repression is not a default state for the HH pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number808
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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