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Horm Res. 1996;45 Suppl 1:19-21.

Molecular biology of pituitary development and disease.

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Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0444, USA.


The major endocrine cell types of the anterior and intermediate pituitary arise in sequential order during development. Our laboratory seeks to understand the molecular basis for different lineages among these cell types. Previous data from our group and others have shown that the POU-domain factor, Pit-1, and the orphan nuclear receptor, SF-1, are critical in the specification and maintenance of these cell types. The analysis of naturally occurring mutations revealed that Pit-1 is needed for development of three cell types, the thyrotropes (thyroid-stimulating hormone), somatotropes (growth hormone), and lactotropes (prolactin). Recently, a genetically engineered mouse mutant demonstrated that SF-1 is required for the maintenance of the gonadotrope (luteinizing hormone/follicle-stimulating hormone) cellular phenotype. To date, a similar factor for the corticotrope and melanotrope lineages expressing propiomelanocortin (POMC) has not been identified. Surprisingly, the serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmitter receptor 5-HT3 was found to be expressed in the anterior and intermediate lobes of the developing rodent pituitary. We are using this new marker to examine the molecular basis of the POMC lineages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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