Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2011 Feb 26. [Epub ahead of print]
When mutated in mammals, paired-like homeobox Prop1 gene produces highly variable pituitary phenotypes with impaired regulation of Pit1 and eventually defective synthesis of Pit1-regulated pituitary hormones. Here we have identified fish prop1 orthologs, confirmed their pituitary-specific expression, and blocked the splicing of zebrafish prop1 transcripts using morpholino oligonucleotides. Very early steps of the gland formation seemed unaffected based on morphology and expression of early placodal marker pitx. Prop1 knock-down reduced the expression of pit1, prl (prolactin) and gh (growth hormone), as expected if the function of Prop1 is conserved throughout vertebrates. Less expectedly, lim3 was down regulated. This gene is expressed from early stages of vertebrate pituitary development but is not known to be Prop1-dependent. In situ hybridizations on prop1 morphants using probes for the pan pituitary gene pitx3 and for the hormone gene markers prl, gh and tshβ, revealed abnormal shape, growth and cellular organization of the developed adenohypophysis. Strikingly, the effects of prop1 knock-down on adenohypophysis morphology and gene expression were gradually reversed during late development, despite persistent splice-blocking of transcripts. Therefore, prop1 function appears to be conserved between mammals and fish, at least for the mediation of hormonal cell type differentiation via pit1, but the existence of other fish-specific pathways downstream of prop1 are suggested by our observations.
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