Hedgehog pathway activator; Activates Smoothened (SMO)

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Hedgehog pathway activator; Activates Smoothened (SMO)
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Purmorphamine is a tri-substituted purine derivative that activates the Hedgehog pathway by directly binding to and activating the Hedgehog receptor Smoothened (EC₅₀ = 1 µM). (Sinha and Chen)

· Promotes differentiation of ventral spinal progenitors and motor neurons from human pluripotent stem cells (Hu and Zhang, Karumbayaram et al., Li et al.).
· Promotes differentiation of osteoblasts from human and mouse mesenchymal cells (Beloti et al., Wu et al. 2002, Wu et al. 2004).
· Inhibits differentiation and maturation of adipocytes from human mesenchymal cells (Fontaine et al.).
Alternative Names:
Not applicable
CAS Number:
Chemical Formula:
Molecular Weight:
520.6 g/mol
≥ 98%

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This product is designed for use in the following research area(s) as part of the highlighted workflow stage(s). Explore these workflows to learn more about the other products we offer to support each research area.

Data and Publications


Nature protocols 2009 JAN

Differentiation of spinal motor neurons from pluripotent human stem cells.

Hu B-Y and Zhang S-C


We have devised a reproducible protocol by which human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) or inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are efficiently differentiated to functional spinal motor neurons. This protocol comprises four major steps. Pluripotent stem cells are induced to form neuroepithelial (NE) cells that form neural tube-like rosettes in the absence of morphogens in the first 2 weeks. The NE cells are then specified to OLIG2-expressing motoneuron progenitors in the presence of retinoic acid (RA) and sonic hedgehog (SHH) or purmorphamine in the next 2 weeks. These progenitor cells further generate post-mitotic, HB9-expressing motoneurons at the 5th week and mature to functional motor neurons thereafter. It typically takes 5 weeks to generate the post-mitotic motoneurons and 8-10 weeks for the production of functional mature motoneurons. In comparison with other methods, our protocol does not use feeder cells, has a minimum dependence on proteins (purmorphamine replacing SHH), has controllable adherent selection and is adaptable for scalable suspension culture.
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio) 2009 APR

Directed differentiation of human-induced pluripotent stem cells generates active motor neurons.

Karumbayaram S et al.


The potential for directed differentiation of human-induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to functional postmitotic neuronal phenotypes is unknown. Following methods shown to be effective at generating motor neurons from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), we found that once specified to a neural lineage, human iPS cells could be differentiated to form motor neurons with a similar efficiency as hESCs. Human iPS-derived cells appeared to follow a normal developmental progression associated with motor neuron formation and possessed prototypical electrophysiological properties. This is the first demonstration that human iPS-derived cells are able to generate electrically active motor neurons. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of using iPS-derived motor neuron progenitors and motor neurons in regenerative medicine applications and in vitro modeling of motor neuron diseases.
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio) 2008 APR

Directed differentiation of ventral spinal progenitors and motor neurons from human embryonic stem cells by small molecules.

Li X-J et al.


Specification of distinct cell types from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is key to the potential application of these naïve pluripotent cells in regenerative medicine. Determination of the nontarget differentiated populations, which is lacking in the field, is also crucial. Here, we show an efficient differentiation of motor neurons ( approximately 50%) by a simple sequential application of retinoid acid and sonic hedgehog (SHH) in a chemically defined suspension culture. We also discovered that purmorphamine, a small molecule that activates the SHH pathway, could replace SHH for the generation of motor neurons. Immunocytochemical characterization indicated that cells differentiated from hESCs were nearly completely restricted to the ventral spinal progenitor fate (NKX2.2+, Irx3+, and Pax7-), with the exception of motor neurons (HB9+) and their progenitors (Olig2+). Thus, the directed neural differentiation system with small molecules, even without further purification, will facilitate basic and translational studies using human motoneurons at a minimal cost.
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio) 2008 APR

Hedgehog signaling alters adipocyte maturation of human mesenchymal stem cells.

Fontaine C et al.


Human stem cells are powerful tools by which to investigate molecular mechanisms of cell growth and differentiation under normal and pathological conditions. Hedgehog signaling, the dysregulation of which causes several pathologies, such as congenital defects and cancer, is involved in several cell differentiation processes and interferes with adipocyte differentiation of rodent cells. The present study was aimed at investigating the effect of Hedgehog pathway modulation on adipocyte phenotype using different sources of human mesenchymal cells, such as bone marrow stromal cells and human multipotent adipose-derived stem cells. We bring evidence that Hedgehog signaling decreases during human adipocyte differentiation. Inhibition of this pathway is not sufficient to trigger adipogenesis, but activation of Hedgehog pathway alters adipocyte morphology as well as insulin sensitivity. Analysis of glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase activity and expression of adipocyte marker genes indicate that activation of Hedgehog signaling by purmorphamine impairs adipogenesis. In sharp contrast to reports in rodent cells, the maturation process, but not the early steps of human mesenchymal stem cell differentiation, is affected by Hedgehog activation. Hedgehog interferes with adipocyte differentiation by targeting CCAAT enhancer-binding protein alpha and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma2 expression, whereas PPARgamma1 level remains unaffected. Although Hedgehog pathway stimulation does not modify the total number of adipocytes, adipogenesis appears dramatically impaired, with reduced lipid accumulation, a decrease in adipocyte-specific markers, and acquisition of an insulin-resistant phenotype. This study indicates that a decrease in Hedgehog signaling is necessary but not sufficient to trigger adipocyte differentiation and unveils a striking difference in the adipocyte differentiation process between rodent and human mesenchymal stem cells.
Nature chemical biology 2006 JAN

Purmorphamine activates the Hedgehog pathway by targeting Smoothened.

Sinha S and Chen JK


Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is an important regulator of embryonic patterning, tissue regeneration, stem cell renewal and cancer growth. A purine derivative named purmorphamine was previously found to activate the Hh pathway and affect osteoblast differentiation through an unknown mechanism. We demonstrate here that purmorphamine directly targets Smoothened, a critical component of the Hh signaling pathway.