Molecular mechanisms of pituitary organogenesis: In search of novel regulatory genes

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2010 Jul 8;323(1):4-19. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2009.12.012. Epub 2009 Dec 16.


Defects in pituitary gland organogenesis are sometimes associated with congenital anomalies that affect head development. Lesions in transcription factors and signaling pathways explain some of these developmental syndromes. Basic research studies, including the characterization of genetically engineered mice, provide a mechanistic framework for understanding how mutations create the clinical characteristics observed in patients. Defects in BMP, WNT, Notch, and FGF signaling pathways affect induction and growth of the pituitary primordium and other organ systems partly by altering the balance between signaling pathways. The PITX and LHX transcription factor families influence pituitary and head development and are clinically relevant. A few later-acting transcription factors have pituitary-specific effects, including PROP1, POU1F1 (PIT1), and TPIT (TBX19), while others, such as NeuroD1 and NR5A1 (SF1), are syndromic, influencing development of other endocrine organs. We conducted a survey of genes transcribed in developing mouse pituitary to find candidates for cases of pituitary hormone deficiency of unknown etiology. We identified numerous transcription factors that are members of gene families with roles in syndromic or non-syndromic pituitary hormone deficiency. This collection is a rich source for future basic and clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / genetics
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genes, Developmental*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Human Growth Hormone / deficiency
  • Human Growth Hormone / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Organogenesis / genetics*
  • Pituitary Gland / growth & development*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Human Growth Hormone