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      Reporter expression, induced by a growth hormone promoter-driven Cre recombinase (rGHp-Cre) transgene, questions the developmental relationship between somatotropes and lactotropes in the adult mouse pituitary gland.

      Age Factors, Animals, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Genes, Reporter, Human Growth Hormone, genetics, Humans, Integrases, metabolism, Lactotrophs, physiology, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Transgenic, Models, Animal, Pituitary Gland, Anterior, cytology, embryology, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Somatotrophs, Transgenes

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          This report describes the development and validation of the rGHp-Cre transgenic mouse that allows for selective Cre-mediated recombination of loxP-modified alleles in the GH-producing cells of the anterior pituitary. Initial screening of the rGHp-Cre parental line showed Cre mRNA was specifically expressed in the anterior pituitary gland of adult Cre+/- mice and cephalic extracts of e17 Cre+/- fetuses. Heterozygote rGHp-Cre transgenic mice were crossbred with Z/AP reporter mice to generate Cre+/-,Z/AP+/- offspring. In this model system, the GH promoter-driven, Cre-mediated recombination of the Z/AP reporter leads to human placental alkaline phosphatase (hPLAP) expression that serves to mark cells that currently produce GH, in addition to cells that would have differentiated from GH cells but currently do not express the GH gene. Double immunocytochemistry of adult male and female Cre+/-,Z/AP+/- pituitary cells revealed the majority (approximately 99%) of GH-producing cells of the anterior pituitary also expressed hPLAP, whereas ACTH-, TSH-, and LH-producing cells were negative for hPLAP, confirming previous reports that corticotropes, thyrotropes, and gonadotropes develop independently of the somatotrope lineage. A small subset (approximately 10%) of the prolactin-producing cells was positive for hPLAP, consistent with previous reports showing lactotropes can arise from somatotropes during pituitary development. However, the fact that 90% of prolactin-producing cells were negative for hPLAP suggests that the majority of lactotropes in the adult mouse pituitary gland develop independently of the somatotrope lineage. In addition to developmental studies, the rGHp-Cre transgenic mouse will provide a versatile tool to study the role of a variety of genes in somatotrope function and neoplastic transformation.

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