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Christopher J Romero, Elyse Pine-Twaddell, and Sally Radovick

The pituitary gland produces hormones that play important roles in both the development and the homeostasis of the body. A deficiency of two or several of these pituitary hormones, known as combined pituitary hormone deficiency, may present in infants or children due to an unknown etiology and is considered congenital or idiopathic. Advancements in our understanding of pituitary development have provided a genetic basis to explain the pathophysiological basis of pituitary hormone disease. Nevertheless, there are several challenges to the precise characterization of abnormal genotypes; these exist secondary to the complexities of several of the hypothalamic/pituitary developmental factors and signals, which ultimately integrate in a temporal and spatial dependent manner to produce a mature gland. Furthermore, the clinical presentation of pituitary hormone disease may be dynamic as subsequent hormone deficiencies may develop over time. The characterization of patients with mutations in genes responsible for pituitary development provides an opportunity to discover potential novel mechanisms responsible for pituitary pathophysiology. The focus of this review is to report the most recent mutations in genes responsible for pituitary development in patients with hypopituitarism and emphasize the importance to physicians and researchers for characterizing these patients. Continuing efforts toward understanding the molecular basis of pituitary development as well as genetic screening of patients with pituitary disease will offer new insights into both diagnostic and potential therapeutic options that will decrease the morbidity and mortality in patients with hypopituitarism.

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Karuna Naik, Isaiah Pittman IV, Andrew Wolfe, Ryan S Miller, Sally Radovick, and Fredric E Wondisford

Inducing tissue-specific genetic alterations under temporal control allows for the analysis of gene function in particular cell types at specified points in time. We have generated a system for tetracycline-controlled expression of Cre recombinase in mice using the unique CreTeR vector. The gonadotroph-specific bovine α-subunit (Bα) promoter fragment was subcloned into the CreTeR vector, creating a technique for highly regulated expression of Cre recombinase exclusively in pituitary gonadotrophs. Control of Cre recombinase in the CreTeR vector was demonstrated in LβT2 pituitary cell lines, where Cre protein was detected in cells treated with doxycycline, but not in untreated cells. In transgenic mice, Cre was expressed in pituitary gonadotrophs of mice treated with doxycycline, but not in non-pituitary tissues or in transgenic mice not treated with doxycycline. We demonstrated Cre expression in the gonadotroph by immunostaining showing co-localization of Cre recombinase with the β-subunit of LH (LH-β). Furthermore, by crossing Bα/CreTeR with R26R mice, we were able to demonstrate functional recombination within pituitary gonadotrophs, detected by lacZ expression. The Bα/CreTeR mice described here can be used to study the function of virtually any gene in the gonadotroph; in particular, this will be useful in studying genes, which may have distinct roles in development and in the adult.