Sonic hedgehog is a secreted protein that in humans is encoded by the SHH gene. It is the best studied ligand of the hedgehog signaling pathway, others being desert hedgehog (DHH) and Indian hedgehog (IHH). It plays a key role in the development of animals, from insects to mammals. In vertebrates, it is involved in organogenesis, including the growth of digits on limbs and the organization of the brain. Sonic hedgehog is an archetypal example of a morphogen as defined by Lewis Wolpert’s French flag model—a molecule that diffuses to form a concentration gradient and has different effects on the cells of the developing embryo depending on its concentration. Sonic hedgehog is also active in adults; for example, it controls the proliferation of adult stem cells and has been implicated in the development of some cancers.