These days you will find that every second hedgehog is called Sonic. Mostly people naming their hedgehogs Sonic, in reference to the movie Sonic the Hedgehog. But where does it originate, or is it just a name?
Did you know that all species, mankind, and animal, that have two eyes have the same gene that separate your left brain from your right, causing for you to have two eyes? This gene is called the Sonic Hedgehog Gene. The SHH (Sonic Hedgehog) gene is responsible for creating certain proteins. This protein functions as a chemical signal that is essential for embryonic development. It plays a major role in cell growth, shaping of the body, cell specialization, forming of the eyes. The Sonic Hedgehog gene is in fact one of three genes, all named after hedgehogs. The first two were named after hedgehog species; Desert hedgehog and Indian hedgehog. As you have just read, the third gene were called, Sonic Hedgehog Gene. These genes have a distinct spikey appearance.
Sonic Hedgehog is necessary for the development of the front part of the brain (forebrain) and is located on chromosome seven. This signalling protein helps establish the line that separates the right and left sides of the forebrain (the mid-line).
But why did the scientist decide on the name Sonic Hedgehog gene?
While busy conducting research on cloning the gene in a lab at Harvard`s, one of the doctors’ Robert Riddle got the name out of a comic book of his daughter. Yes, the Sonic Hedgehog character was first a video game, featuring in comic books before it became a TV series and ultimately, the movie was made.
Because of the popularity of the comic character Sonic, the Human Genome Organization’s Nomenclature Committee wanted to change the name of the gene, but, like you get hooked on hedgehogs, this name also stuck, and it is still called Sonic Hedgehog Gene!
For the hedgehog lovers it means that we all have a hedgehog inside of us!
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Article by Lizl van Vreden.