All mouse ventral spinal cord patterning by hedgehog is Gli dependent and involves an activator function of Gli3.
An important question is how the gradient of Hedgehog is interpreted by cells at the level of the Gli transcription factors. The full range of Gli activity and its dependence on Hh have not been determined, although the Gli2 activator and Gli3 repressor have been implicated. Using the spinal cord as a model system, we demonstrate that Gli3 can transduce Hedgehog signaling as an activator. All expression of the Hh target gene Gli1 is dependent on both Gli2 and Gli3. Unlike Gli2, however, Gli3 requires endogenous Gli1 for induction of floor plate and V3 interneurons. Strikingly, embryos lacking all Gli function develop motor neurons and three ventral interneuron subtypes, similar to embryos lacking Hh signaling and Gli3. Therefore, in the spinal cord all Hh signaling is Gli dependent. Furthermore, a combination of Gli2 and Gli3 is required to regulate motor neuron development and spatial patterning of ventral spinal cord progenitors.