A tissue-specific transcription factor containing a homeodomain specifies a pituitary phenotype

Cell. 1988 Nov 4;55(3):519-29. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(88)90038-4.


Multiple related cis-active elements required for cell-specific activation of the rat prolactin gene appear to bind a pituitary-specific positive transcription factor(s), referred to as Pit-1. DNA complementary to Pit-1 mRNA, cloned on the basis of specific binding to AT-rich cell-specific elements in the rat prolactin and growth hormone genes, encodes a 33 kd protein with significant similarity at its carboxyl terminus to the homeodomains encoded by Drosophila developmental genes. Pit-1 mRNA is expressed exclusively in the anterior pituitary gland in both somatotroph and lactotroph cell types, which produce growth hormone and prolactin, respectively. Pit-1 expression in heterologous cells (HeLa) selectively activates prolactin and growth hormone fusion gene expression, suggesting that Pit-1 is sufficient to confer a characteristic pituitary phenotype. The structure of Pit-1 and its recognition elements suggests that metazoan tissue phenotype is controlled by a family of transcription factors that bind to related cis-active elements and contain several highly conserved domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, Homeobox*
  • Growth Hormone / biosynthesis
  • Growth Hormone / genetics
  • HeLa Cells
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Organ Specificity
  • Phenotype
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / analysis*
  • Prolactin / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transcription Factors / analysis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transfection


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors
  • Prolactin
  • Growth Hormone
  • DNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M23253