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Nature. 1990 Aug 9;346(6284):583-6.

Autoregulation of pit-1 gene expression mediated by two cis-active promoter elements.

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Center for Molecular Genetics, School of Medicine, La Jolla, California 92093.


The pit-1 gene is a member of a large family of genes that encode proteins which are involved in development and which contain a highly homologous region, referred to as the POU domain. Pit-1, a pituitary-specific transcription factor, can activate the transcription of the growth hormone and prolactin promoters. It is expressed in mature thyrotroph, somatotroph and lactotroph cell types of the anterior pituitary which arise sequentially during development; somatotrophs and lactotrophs, which secrete growth hormone and prolactin, respectively, are the last to arise. Intriguingly, during ontogeny, pit-1 transcripts are observed in the rat neural tube and neural plate (embryonic day 10-11) and disappear thereafter (day 13), only to reappear exclusively in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland (day 15) just before activation of prolactin and growth hormone. This biphasic pattern suggests a complex mechanism of initial activation of pit-1 gene expression. Transcription and transfection analyses in vitro using wild-type and mutated promoters indicate that Pit-1 can positively autoregulate the expression of the pit-1 promoter as a consequence of binding to two Pit-1-binding elements. Mutation of the 5' Pit-1-binding site abolished positive autoregulation, whereas mutation of the element located immediately 3' of the cap site markedly increased expression of the pit-1 promoter. These data are consistent with a positive, attenuated autoregulatory loop that seems to function in maintaining pit-1 gene expression.

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