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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Pituitary hormones as neurotrophic signals: update on hypothalamic differentiation in genetic models of altered feedback.

Studies of mutant mice that are growth hormone (GH)- and prolactin (PRL)-deficient have provided evidence that these pituitary hormones have trophic, as well as dynamic, feedback effects on the hypothalamic neurons that regulate GH and PRL secretion (1). This review examines further evidence, from those animals and from recent transgenic models, for GH and PRL effects on neuronal differentiation. Characterization of the Ames dwarf (Prop-1<df>) mutation and discovery of other genes important to pituitary differentiation reveal an expression sequence of transcription factors, Hesx1 (Rpx) to P-Lim to Prop-1 to Pit-1, that heralds influence on hypothalamic differentiation. Occasional expression of GH and PRL in the Ames dwarf pituitary may result from the "partial loss of function" nature of the Ames Prop-1 mutation. In transgenic mice with moderately or extremely elevated GH levels, neurons that regulate GH exhibit respective maximum and minimum expression and cell number in inhibitory somatostatin (SRIH) and in stimulatory GH-releasing hormone ( GHRH). The phenomenon is inverted in GH-lacking dwarfs, and patterns of SRIH underexpression and GHRH overexpression are established early in postnatal development. The differentiation of PRL-inhibiting dopaminergic (DA) neurons is supported not only by PRL, but by human GH, which is lactogenic in rodents. Transgenic mice with peripherally expressed hGH have increased numbers of DA neurons, as opposed to the decreased DA population in PRL-deficient dwarf mice. Rats engineered to express hGH in GHRH neurons do not show this increase, whereas spontaneously GH-deficient dwarf rats show increased DA neuron number. These findings may be explained by feedback on neurons that co-express GHRH and DA. Current studies suggest that Snell (Pit-1<dw>) dwarf mice show a more severe and earlier DA neuron deficiency than Ames dwarfs, and that PRL feedback must occur prior to 20 days of postnatal age to maintain the DA neuronal phenotype. Insights into the mechanisms of GH and PRL effects on hypophysiotropic neurons include receptor localization on identified neuronal phenotypes, including intermediate neurons that mediate dynamic feedback, and elucidation of signal transduction pathways for GH and PRL in peripheral cell types. New transgenic models of altered GH, PRL, or receptor expression offer further study of neurotrophic effects.[1]


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