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Cell. 2001 Mar 23;104(6):849-59.

A pituitary cell-restricted T box factor, Tpit, activates POMC transcription in cooperation with Pitx homeoproteins.

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Laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire, Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal, 110 des Pins Ouest, Montreal QC, Canada H2W 1R7.


The pituitary gland has provided unique insight into molecular mechanisms and regulatory factors controlling both differentiation and gene transcription. We identified Tpit, a novel T box factor only present in the two pituitary POMC-expressing lineages, the corticotrophs and melanotrophs, and apparently in no other tissue, including hypothalamic POMC neurons. In pituitary cells, Tpit activation of POMC gene transcription requires cooperation with Pitx1, the two factors binding to contiguous sites within the same regulatory element. In gain-of-function experiments, Tpit induces POMC expression in undifferentiated pituitary cells, indicating that it can initiate differentiation into POMC-expressing lineages. TPIT gene mutations were found in patients with isolated deficiency of pituitary POMC-derived ACTH, in support of an essential role of Tpit for differentiation of the pituitary POMC lineage.

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