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Dev Biol. 2002 Apr 15;244(2):319-28.

Complementary expression of IGF-II and IGFBP-5 during anterior pituitary development.

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Reproductive Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0674, USA.


The specification of the five individual hormone-secreting cell types in the anterior pituitary requires a series of sequential cell fate decisions. We have immortalized cells at several stages along this pathway of pituitary differentiation. Here, we present analysis of differences in gene expression between an anterior pituitary precursor cell line, alphaT1-1, and an immature gonadotrope cell line, alphaT3-1, identified by using cDNA subtraction. Messenger RNA expression of members of the insulin-like growth factor signaling system, IGF-II and IGFBP-5, was found in the alphaT1-1 precursor cell line, but not in the more differentiated cell line, alphaT3-1. This inferred stage specificity was confirmed in the mouse embryo by using in situ hybridization on embryonic days e10.5 through e18.5. Expression of IGF-II and IGFBP-5 mRNAs was both temporally and spatially regulated during pituitary development. IGF-II was highly expressed in the epithelium surrounding Rathke's pouch at e10.5, while IGFBP-5 expression was restricted to the adjacent oral epithelium. At e11.5 (represented by alphaT1-1), IGF-II was expressed throughout the pouch, but was coexpressed with IGFBP-5 and alpha-subunit in the ventral portion of the pouch epithelium. On e12.5, the two mRNAs were expressed in opposing dorsoventral (IGF-II) and ventrodorsal (IGFBP-5) patterns, with IGF-II excluded from the rostral, alpha-subunit-expressing region. A decrease of both mRNAs was observed at e14.5 (equivalent to alphaT3-1), with IGF-II levels low and IGFBP-5 concentrated in the anterior pituitary rostral tip. These findings suggest that the timing of IGF-II expression and regulation of its accessibility by IGFBP-5 may play a role in anterior pituitary differentiation, survival, and/or proliferation.

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