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    Differentiation of the hormone-producing cells of the pituitary represents an informative model of cell fate determination. The generation and maintenance of 2 pituitary lineages, the growth hormone (GH)- producing somatotropes and the prolactin (PRL)- producing lactotropes, are dependent on the pituitary-specific transcription factor, POU1F1. While POU1F1 is expressed in both cell types, and plays a role in activation of both the Gh and Prl genes, expression of Gh and Prl is restricted to somatotropes and lactotropes, respectively. These observations imply the existence of additional factors that contribute to the somatotrope and lactotrope identities and their hormone expressions. Prior transcriptome analysis of primary somatotropes and lactotropes isolated from the mouse pituitary identified enrichment of a transcription factor, Nr4a2, in the lactotropes. Nr4a2 was shown in a cell culture model to bind the Prl promoter at a position adjacent to Pou1f1 and to synergize with Pou1f1 in driving Prl transcription. Here we demonstrate in vivo the role of Nr4a2 as an enhancer of Prl expression by conditional gene inactivation of the Nr4a2 gene in mouse lactotropes. We demonstrate that nuclear orphan receptor transcription factor (NR4A2) binding at the Prl promoter is dependent on actions of POU1F1; while POU1F1 is essential to loading polymerase (Pol) II on the Prl promoter, Nr4a2 plays a role in enhancing Pol II release into the Prl gene body. These studies establish an in vivo role of Nr4a2 in enhancing Prl expression in mouse lactotropes, explore its mechanism of action, and establish a system for further study of the lactotrope lineage in the pituitary. © Endocrine Society 2020. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


    Michael T Peel, Yugong Ho, Stephen A Liebhaber. The Transcription Factor NR4A2 Plays an Essential Role in Driving Prolactin Expression in Female Pituitary Lactotropes. Endocrinology. 2020 May 01;161(5)

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    PMID: 32188976

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