Sonic hedgehog enhances calcium oscillations in hippocampal astrocytes

Chihiro Adachi, Naoto Kakinuma, Soo Hyun Jo, Takayuki Ishii, Yusuke Arai, Satoshi Arai, Tetsuya Kitaguchi, Sen Takeda, Takafumi Inoue*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Sonic hedgehog (SHH) is important for organogenesis during development. Recent studies have indicated that SHH is also involved in the proliferation and transformation of astrocytes to the reactive phenotype. However, the mechanisms underlying these are unknown. Involvement of SHH signaling in calcium (Ca) signaling has not been extensively studied. Here, we report that SHH and Smoothened agonist (SAG), an activator of the signaling receptor Smoothened (SMO) in the SHH pathway, activate Ca oscillations in cultured murine hippocampal astrocytes. The response was rapid, on a minute time scale, indicating a noncanonical pathway activity. Pertussis toxin blocked the SAG effect, indicating an involvement of a Gi coupled to SMO. Depletion of extracellular ATP by apyrase, an ATP-degrading enzyme, inhibited the SAG-mediated activation of Ca oscillations. These results indicate that SAG increases extracellular ATP levels by activating ATP release from astrocytes, resulting in Ca oscillation activation. We hypothesize that SHH activates SMO-coupled Gi in astrocytes, causing ATP release and activation of Gq/11-coupled P2 receptors on the same cell or surrounding astrocytes. Transcription factor activities are often modulated by Ca patterns; therefore, SHH signaling may trigger changes in astrocytes by activating Ca oscillations. This enhancement of Ca oscillations by SHH signaling may occur in astrocytes in the brain in vivo because we also observed it in hippocampal brain slices. In summary, SHH and SAG enhance Ca oscillations in hippocampal astrocytes, Gi mediates SAG-induced Ca oscillations downstream of SMO, and ATP-permeable channels may promote the ATP release that activates Ca oscillations in astrocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16034-16048
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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