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J Neuroendocrinol. 2011 Sep;23(9):849-59. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2011.02189.x.

Role of the non-canonical notch ligand delta-like protein 1 in hormone-producing cells of the adult male mouse pituitary.

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Cell Biology Section, School of Biology, University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.


To better understand the role of the non-canonical Notch ligand delta-like protein 1 (DLK1), in hormone-producing cells, we studied the cell distribution and subcellular localisation of DLK1 in the pituitary of male adult 129/SvJ mice, and analysed the variations in the hormone-producing cells associated with the lack of this gene in Dlk1 knockout mice. The results obtained showed the presence of DLK1-immunoreactive (ir) cells in all hormone-producing cells of the anterior pituitary. Immunoelectron microscopy showed DLK1-ir in the rough endoplasmic reticulum and inside secretory vesicles, suggesting that DLK1 is released together with pituitary hormones. Moreover, we found that prolactin (PRL)-DLK1-ir cells are in intimate contact with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)-ir-DLK1-negative cells. In Dlk1 knockout mice, we detected a significantly lower number of gowth hormone (GH)-ir cells, a reduction in the FSH and PRL immunostaining intensity, and a significant decrease in FSH mRNA expression compared to wild-type mice. An increase in pituitary GH mRNA expression and serum leptin levels was also found. These findings provide evidence supporting several regulatory functions of DLK1 in the pituitary gland.

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