Hesx1 is a paired-like homeobox gene first expressed during mouse embryogenesis in the anterior midline visceral endoderm. As gastrulation proceeds, Hesx1 is expressed in the ventral prosencephalon and, subsequently, at E9.0 appears in the ventral diencephalon and in the thickened layer of oral ectoderm that give rise to Rathke's pouch, the primordium of the anterior pituitary gland. Hesx1 continues to be expressed in the developing anterior pituitary until E11.5 when its transcripts disappear in a spatiotemporal sequence corresponding to progressive pituitary cell differentiation, becoming undetectable by E15.5. In the present study, we investigated whether HESX1 is expressed during adult life in human normal pituitaries and in different types of human pituitary adenomas. We analysed, using quantitative RT-PCR method, three normal pituitaries, seven GH-, two TSH-, two PRL-, one ACTH-secreting adenomas, and seven nonfunctioning pituitary tumors. HESX1 mRNA was found to be expressed in normal pituitaries and in all the pituitary tumors that we have analysed. These results suggest that in humans HESX1 is not turned-off during the adult life as it occurs in mice. Thus, HESX1 in humans might play a role in the maintenance of the anterior pituitary cell types and function, as well as in the differentiation of pituitary adenomas, whose pathogenetic mechanisms remain to be further investigated. This is the first study on HESX1 expression in humans during adult life.
- Homeobox gene
- Transcription factor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism