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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 15;286(28):25387-96. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.202788. Epub 2011 May 26.

The Ets factor Etv1 interacts with Tpit protein for pituitary pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene transcription.

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Laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire, Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec H2W 1R7, Canada.


Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) is expressed in two lineages of the pituitary, the anterior lobe corticotrophs and the intermediate lobe melanotrophs. POMC expression in these two lineages is highly dependent on the cell-restricted transcription factor Tpit. As Tpit intervenes relatively late in differentiation of those lineages, we have been searching for other transcription factors that may participate in their gene expression program. On the basis of similarity with the Tpit expression profile, we identified Ets variant gene 1 (Etv1/Er81) as a putative POMC transcription factor. Using Etv1-lacZ knockin mice, we describe preferential Etv1 expression in pituitary POMC cells and also in posterior lobe pituicytes. We further show that Etv1 enhances POMC transcription on its own and in synergy with Tpit. The Ets-binding site located within the Tpit/Pitx regulatory element is necessary for Etv1 activity in POMC-expressing AtT-20 cells but dispensable for synergy with Tpit. Etv1 and Tpit interact together in coimmunoprecipitation experiments. Furthermore, Etv1 is present at the POMC promoter, and siRNA-mediated knockdown of Etv1 in AtT-20 cells produces a significant decrease in POMC expression. Etv1 knockout pituitaries show normal POMC cell distribution and normal POMC mRNA abundance, suggesting compensation by other factors. The coordinate expression of Etv1 with POMC cell differentiation and its interaction with the highly cell-restricted Tpit factor indicate that Etv1 participates in a combinatorial code for pituitary cell-specific gene expression.

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