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Physiol Genomics. 2013 Jun 3;45(11):422-33. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00154.2012. Epub 2013 Apr 9.

Glucocorticoid-induced changes in gene expression in embryonic anterior pituitary cells.

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Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.


Within the anterior pituitary gland, glucocorticoids such as corticosterone (CORT) provide negative feedback to inhibit adrenocorticotropic hormone secretion and act to regulate production of other hormones including growth hormone (GH). The ontogeny of GH production during chicken embryonic and rat fetal development is controlled by glucocorticoids. The present study was conducted to characterize effects of glucocorticoids on gene expression within embryonic pituitary cells and to identify genes that are rapidly and directly regulated by glucocorticoids. Chicken embryonic pituitary cells were cultured with CORT for 1.5, 3, 6, 12, and 24 h in the absence and presence of cycloheximide (CHX) to inhibit protein synthesis. RNA was analyzed with custom microarrays containing 14,053 chicken cDNAs, and results for selected genes were confirmed by quantitative reverse transcription real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Levels of GH mRNA were maximally induced by 6 h of CORT treatment, and this response was blocked by CHX. Expression of 396 genes was affected by CORT, and of these, mRNA levels for 46 genes were induced or repressed within 6 h. Pathway analysis of genes regulated by CORT in the absence of CHX revealed networks of genes associated with endocrine system development and cellular development. Eleven genes that were induced within 6 h in the absence and presence of CHX were identified, and eight were confirmed by qRT-PCR. The expression profiles and canonical pathways defined in this study will be useful for future analyses of glucocorticoid action and regulation of pituitary function.


embryo; glucocorticoid; microarray; pituitary

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