Significant progress has been made recently in unravelling the embryonic events leading to pituitary morphogenesis, both in vivo and in vitro. This includes dissection of the molecular mechanisms controlling patterning of the ventral diencephalon that regulate formation of the pituitary anlagen or Rathke's pouch. There is also a better characterisation of processes that underlie maintenance of pituitary progenitors, specification of endocrine lineages and the three-dimensional organisation of newly differentiated endocrine cells. Furthermore, a population of adult pituitary stem cells (SCs), originating from embryonic progenitors, have been described and shown to have not only regenerative potential, but also the capacity to induce tumour formation. Finally, the successful recapitulation in vitro of embryonic events leading to generation of endocrine cells from embryonic SCs, and their subsequent transplantation, represents exciting advances towards the use of regenerative medicine to treat endocrine deficits. In this review, an up-to-date description of pituitary morphogenesis will be provided and discussed with particular reference to pituitary SC studies.
Leonard Y M Cheung and Karine Rizzoti
In the last 15 years, single-cell technologies have become robust and indispensable tools to investigate cell heterogeneity. Beyond transcriptomic, genomic and epigenome analyses, technologies are constantly evolving, in particular toward multi-omics, where analyses of different source materials from a single cell are combined, and spatial transcriptomics, where resolution of cellular heterogeneity can be detected in situ. While some of these techniques are still being optimized, single-cell RNAseq has commonly been used because the examination of transcriptomes allows characterization of cell identity and, therefore, unravel previously uncharacterized diversity within cell populations. Most endocrine organs have now been investigated using this technique, and this has given new insights into organ embryonic development, characterization of rare cell types, and disease mechanisms. Here, we highlight recent studies, particularly on the hypothalamus and pituitary, and examine recent findings on the pancreas and reproductive organs where many single-cell experiments have been performed.