Somatotrophs are the only pituitary cells that express Ret, GFRα1 and GDNF. This study investigated the effects of Ret in a somatotroph cell line, in primary pituitary cultures and in Ret KO mice. Ret regulates somatotroph numbers by inducing Pit-1 overexpression, leading to increased p53 expression and apoptosis, both of which can be prevented with Ret or Pit-1 siRNA. The Pit-1 overexpression is mediated by sustained activation of PKCδ, JNK, c/EBPα and CREB induced by a complex of Ret, caspase 3 and PKCδ. In the presence of GDNF, Akt is activated, and the Pit-1 overexpression and resulting apoptosis are blocked. The adenopituitary of Ret KO mice is larger than normal, showing Pit-1 and somatotroph hyperplasia. In normal animals, activation of the Ret/Pit-1/p53 pathway by retroviral introduction of Ret blocked tumor growth in vivo. Thus, somatotrophs have an intrinsic mechanism for controlling Pit-1/GH production through an apoptotic/survival pathway. Ret might be of value for treatment of pituitary adenomas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology