N-cadherin loss in POMC-expressing cells leads to pituitary disorganization

Ashley D. Himes, Rachel M. Fiddler, Lori T. Raetzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pituitary tumors are the third most common intracranial tumor in humans and can cause altered hormone secretions leading to hypercortisolism, acromegaly, and infertility. Reduced expression of the cell adhesion molecule N-cadherin has been linked with the formation of pituitary tumors, but its role in normal pituitary gland physiology or tumor initiation is unknown. In the murine pituitary, N-cadherin expression is detected in virtually all cells of the posterior, intermediate, and anterior lobes. N-cadherin may function to initiate important cues such as controlling proliferation, directing cell placement, and promoting formation of cell networks that coordinately release hormones into the bloodstream. To address this, we generated mice lacking N-cadherin in proopiomelanocortin-expressing melanotrope and corticotrope cells of the intermediate and anterior lobes of the pituitary. We observed that intermediate lobe cells can aberrantly displace SOX2-containing progenitor cells in the N-cadherin conditional knockout mice at postnatal d 1. By postnatal d 30, although a reduction in α- and β-catenin membrane staining occurs, there is little effect on intermediate lobe architecture with Ncadherin loss. Also, despite these changes in adherens junction molecules, no alterations in cell proliferation occur. In contrast, loss of N-cadherin in the corticotropes leads to aberrant cell clustering and a reduction in Pomc mRNA. Taken together, our data reveal important roles of N-cadherin in pituitary cell placement and that loss of N-cadherin alone does not lead to pituitary tumor formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-491
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology

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