Developmental regulation of Notch signaling genes in the embryonic pituitary: Prop1 deficiency affects Notch2 expression

L. T. Raetzman, S. A. Ross, S. Cook, S. L. Dunwoodie, S. A. Camper, P. Q. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Normal development of the pituitary gland requires coordination between the maintenance of a progenitor cell pool and the selection of progenitor cells for differentiation. As Notch signaling controls progenitor cell differentiation in many embryonic tissues, we investigated the involvement of this important developmental pathway in the embryonic pituitary. We report that expression of Notch signaling genes is spatially and temporally regulated in pituitary embryogenesis and implicate Notch2 in the differentiation of several cell lineages. Notch2, Notch3, and Dll1 are initially expressed by most cells within the pituitary primordium and become restricted to a subset of the progenitor cell pool as differentiated pituitary cells begin to appear. Mutations in the transcription factor Prop1 interfere with pituitary growth and cell specification, although the mechanism is unknown. Notch2 expression is nearly absent in the developing pituitaries of Prop1 mutant mice, but unaltered in some other panhypopituitary mutants, revealing that Prop1 is directly or indirectly required for normal Notch2 expression. Transgenic overexpression of Prop1 is not sufficient for enhancement of endogenous Notch2 expression, indicating that there are multiple inputs into this pathway. Dll3 is expressed only in the presumptive corticotrope and melanotrope cells. Analysis of Dll3 null mutants indicates that Dll3 is not required for specification of these two cell types, although there may be functional overlap with Dll1. The spatial and temporal expression patterns of Notch signaling genes in the pituitary suggest overlapping roles in pituitary growth and cell specification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-340
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Notch signaling
  • Pituitary
  • Prop1
  • Rathke's pouch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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