Sonic hedgehog (Shh) is expressed in the posterior vertebrate limb bud mesenchyme and directs anteroposterior patterning and growth during limb development. Here we report an analysis of the pectoral fin phenotype of zebrafish sonic you mutants, which disrupt the shh gene. We show that Shh is required for the establishment of some aspects of anteroposterior polarity, while other aspects of anteroposterior polarity are established independently of Shh, and only later come to depend on Shh for their maintenance. We also demonstrate that Shh is required for the activation of posterior HoxD genes by retinoic acid. Finally, we show that Shh is required for normal development of the apical ectodermal fold, for growth of the fin bud, and for formation of the fin endoskeleton.

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