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      Cells Co-Expressing Luteinising Hormone and Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone Are Present in the Ovine Pituitary Pars Distalis but Not the Pars Tuberalis: Implications for the Control of Endogenous Circannual Rhythms of Prolactin

      , , ,

      Neuroendocrinology

      S. Karger AG

      Thyrotroph, Prolactin , Pituitary, Gonadotroph

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          Abstract

          Background/Aims: A mammalian circannual pacemaker responsible for regulating the seasonal pattern of prolactin has been recently described in sheep. This pacemaker resides within the pars tuberalis, an area of the pituitary gland that densely expresses melatonin receptors. However, the chemical identity of the cell type which acts as the pacemaker remains elusive. Mathematical-modelling approaches have established that this cell must be responsive to the static melatonin signal as well as prolactin negative feedback. Considering that in sheep the gonadotroph is the only cell in the pars tuberalis which expresses the prolactin receptor, and that in other photoperiodic species the thyrotroph is the only cell expressing the melatonin receptor in this tissue, a cell type which expresses both proteins would fulfil the theoretical criteria of a circannual pacemaker. Methods: Pituitary glands were obtained from female sheep under short days (breeding season) and long days (non-breeding season) and double immunofluorescent staining was conducted to determine the prevalence of bi-hormonal cells in the pars distalis and pars tuberalis using specific antibodies to luteinising hormone-β and thyroid-stimulating hormone-β. Results: The results reveal that whilst such a bihormonal cell is clearly present in the pars distalis and constitute 4% of the gonadotroph population in this region, the same cell type is completely absent from the pars tuberalis even though LH gonadotrophs are abundantly expressed. Conclusions: Based on these findings, together with existing data, we are able to propose an alternative model where the gonadotroph itself is controlled indirectly by neighbouring melatonin responsive cells, allowing it to act as a pacemaker.

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          Most cited references 35

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          Thyrotrophin in the pars tuberalis triggers photoperiodic response.

          Molecular mechanisms regulating animal seasonal breeding in response to changing photoperiod are not well understood. Rapid induction of gene expression of thyroid-hormone-activating enzyme (type 2 deiodinase, DIO2) in the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) of the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) is the earliest event yet recorded in the photoperiodic signal transduction pathway. Here we show cascades of gene expression in the quail MBH associated with the initiation of photoinduced secretion of luteinizing hormone. We identified two waves of gene expression. The first was initiated about 14 h after dawn of the first long day and included increased thyrotrophin (TSH) beta-subunit expression in the pars tuberalis; the second occurred approximately 4 h later and included increased expression of DIO2. Intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of TSH to short-day quail stimulated gonadal growth and expression of DIO2 which was shown to be mediated through a TSH receptor-cyclic AMP (cAMP) signalling pathway. Increased TSH in the pars tuberalis therefore seems to trigger long-day photoinduced seasonal breeding.
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            Ancestral TSH mechanism signals summer in a photoperiodic mammal.

            In mammals, day-length-sensitive (photoperiodic) seasonal breeding cycles depend on the pineal hormone melatonin, which modulates secretion of reproductive hormones by the anterior pituitary gland [1]. It is thought that melatonin acts in the hypothalamus to control reproduction through the release of neurosecretory signals into the pituitary portal blood supply, where they act on pituitary endocrine cells [2]. Contrastingly, we show here that during the reproductive response of Soay sheep exposed to summer day lengths, the reverse applies: Melatonin acts directly on anterior-pituitary cells, and these then relay the photoperiodic message back into the hypothalamus to control neuroendocrine output. The switch to long days causes melatonin-responsive cells in the pars tuberalis (PT) of the anterior pituitary to increase production of thyrotrophin (TSH). This acts locally on TSH-receptor-expressing cells in the adjacent mediobasal hypothalamus, leading to increased expression of type II thyroid hormone deiodinase (DIO2). DIO2 initiates the summer response by increasing hypothalamic tri-iodothyronine (T3) levels. These data and recent findings in quail [3] indicate that the TSH-expressing cells of the PT play an ancestral role in seasonal reproductive control in vertebrates. In mammals this provides the missing link between the pineal melatonin signal and thyroid-dependent seasonal biology.
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              A molecular switch for photoperiod responsiveness in mammals.

              Seasonal synchronization based on day length (photoperiod) allows organisms to anticipate environmental change. Photoperiodic decoding relies on circadian clocks, but the underlying molecular pathways have remained elusive [1]. In mammals and birds, photoperiodic responses depend crucially on expression of thyrotrophin β subunit RNA (TSHβ) in the pars tuberalis (PT) of the pituitary gland [2-4]. Now, using our well-characterized Soay sheep model [2], we describe a molecular switch governing TSHβ transcription through the circadian clock. Central to this is a conserved D element in the TSHβ promoter, controlled by the circadian transcription factor thyrotroph embryonic factor (Tef). In the PT, long-day exposure rapidly induces expression of the coactivator eyes absent 3 (Eya3), which synergizes with Tef to maximize TSHβ transcription. The pineal hormone melatonin, secreted nocturnally, sets the phase of rhythmic Eya3 expression in the PT to peak 12 hr after nightfall. Additionally, nocturnal melatonin levels directly suppress Eya3 expression. Together, these effects form a switch triggering a strong morning peak of Eya3 expression under long days. Species variability in the TSHβ D element influences sensitivity to TEF, reflecting species variability in photoperiodic responsiveness. Our findings define a molecular pathway linking the circadian clock to the evolution of seasonal timing in mammals.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                NEN
                Neuroendocrinology
                10.1159/issn.0028-3835
                Neuroendocrinology
                S. Karger AG
                0028-3835
                1423-0194
                2013
                June 2013
                26 March 2013
                : 97
                : 4
                : 355-362
                Affiliations
                Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medical and Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
                Author notes
                *Domingo J. Tortonese, Centre for Comparative and Clinical Anatomy, University of Bristol, Southwell Street, Bristol BS2 8EJ (UK), E-Mail d.tortonese@bristol.ac.uk
                Article
                350790 Neuroendocrinology 2013;97:355-362
                10.1159/000350790
                23548370
                © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, Pages: 8
                Categories
                Original Paper

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