Research Articles

Activation of cell-specific expression of rat growth hormone and prolactin genes by a common transcription factor

Science  18 Mar 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4846, pp. 1400-1405
DOI: 10.1126/science.2831625


In the anterior pituitary gland, there are five phenotypically distinct cell types, including cells that produce either prolactin (lactotrophs) or growth hormone (somatotrophs). Multiple, related cis-active elements that exhibit synergistic interactions appear to be the critical determinants of the transcriptional activation of the rat prolactin and growth hormone genes. A common positive tissue-specific transcription factor, referred to as Pit-1, appears to bind to all the cell-specific elements in each gene and to be required for the activation of both the prolactin and growth hormone genes. The data suggest that, in the course of development, a single tissue-specific factor activates sets of genes that ultimately exhibit restricted cell-specific expression and define cellular phenotype.

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