Two Patched molecules engage distinct sites on Hedgehog yielding a signaling-competent complex

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Abstract

Aberrant Hedgehog (HH) signaling leads to various types of cancer and birth defects. N-terminally palmitoylated HH initiates signaling by binding its receptor Patched-1 (PTCH1). A recent 1:1 PTCH1-HH complex structure visualized a palmitate-mediated binding site on HH, which was inconsistent with previous studies that implied a distinct, calcium-mediated binding site for PTCH1 and HH co-receptors. Our 3.5-angstrom resolution cryo–electron microscopy structure of native Sonic Hedgehog (SHH-N) in complex with PTCH1 at a physiological calcium concentration reconciles these disparate findings and demonstrates that one SHH-N molecule engages both epitopes to bind two PTCH1 receptors in an asymmetric manner. Functional assays using PTCH1 or SHH-N mutants that disrupt the individual interfaces illustrate that simultaneous engagement of both interfaces is required for efficient signaling in cells.

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