Here, we report the investigation of transforming growth factor beta-receptor 3 like (TGFBR3L), an uncharacterised pituitary specific membrane protein, in non-neoplastic anterior pituitary gland and pituitary neuroendocrine tumours. A polyclonal antibody produced within the Human Protein Atlas project (HPA074356) was used for TGFBR3L staining and combined with SF1 and FSH for a 3-plex fluorescent protocol, providing more details about the cell lineage specificity of TGFBR3L expression. A cohort of 230 pituitary neuroendocrine tumours were analysed. In a subgroup of previously characterised gonadotroph tumours, correlation with expression of FSH/LH, E-cadherin, oestrogen (ER) and somatostatin receptors (SSTR) was explored. TGFBR3L showed membranous immunolabeling and was found to be gonadotroph cell lineage-specific, verified by co-expression with SF1 and FSH/LH staining in both tumour and non-neoplastic anterior pituitary tissues. TGFBR3L immunoreactivity was observed in gonadotroph tumours only and demonstrated intra-tumour heterogeneity with a perivascular location. TGFBR3L immunostaining correlated positively to both FSH (R = 0.290) and LH (R = 0.390) immunostaining, and SSTR3 (R = 0.315). TGFBR3L correlated inversely to membranous E-cadherin staining (R = -0.351) and oestrogen receptor β mRNA (R = -0.274). In conclusion, TGFBR3L is a novel pituitary gland specific protein, located in the membrane of gonadotroph cells in non-neoplastic anterior pituitary gland and in a subset of gonadotroph pituitary tumours.
Keywords: gonadotroph cells; hormone secretion; immunohistochemistry; membrane protein; pituitary gland; pituitary neuroendocrine tumours.