The patterning activity of a morphogen depends on secretion and dispersal mechanisms that shape its distribution to the cells of a receptive field. In the case of the protein Hedgehog (Hh), these mechanisms of secretion and transmission remain unclear. In the developing Drosophila visual system, Hedgehog is partitioned for release at opposite poles of photoreceptor neurons. Release into the retina regulates the progression of eye development; axon transport and release at axon termini trigger the development of postsynaptic neurons in the brain. Here we show that this binary targeting decision is controlled by a C-terminal proteolysis. Hh with an intact C-terminus undergoes axonal transport, whereas a C-terminal proteolysis enables Hedgehog to remain in the retina, creating a balance between eye and brain development. Thus, we define a novel mechanism for the apical/basal targeting of this developmentally important protein and posit that similar post-translational regulation could underlie the polarity of related ligands.
- Received January 10, 2017.
- Accepted March 13, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.