The pituitary gland is a primary endocrine organ that controls major physiological processes. Abnormal development or homeostatic disruptions can lead to human disorders such as hypopituitarism or tumors. Multiple signaling pathways, including WNT, BMP, FGF, and SHH regulate pituitary development but the role of the Hippo-YAP1/TAZ cascade is currently unknown. In multiple tissues, the Hippo kinase cascade underlies neoplasias; it influences organ size through the regulation of proliferation and apoptosis, and has roles in determining stem cell potential. We have used a sensitive mRNA in situ hybridization method (RNAscope) to determine the expression patterns of the Hippo pathway components during mouse pituitary development. We have also carried out immunolocalisation studies to determine when YAP1 and TAZ, the transcriptional effectors of the Hippo pathway, are active. We find that YAP1/TAZ are active in the stem/progenitor cell population throughout development and at postnatal stages, consistent with their role in promoting the stem cell state. Our results demonstrate for the first time the collective expression of major components of the Hippo pathway during normal embryonic and postnatal development of the pituitary gland.
Keywords: Hippo; Rathke's pouch; TAZ; YAP1; pituitary; pituitary stem cells.