Pituitary-specific expression and Pit-1 regulation of the rat growth hormone-releasing hormone receptor gene

Allison T. McElvaine, Andrew I. Korytko, Signe M. Kilen, Leona Cuttler, Kelly E. Mayo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The GHRH receptor is expressed in the somatotroph cell of the anterior pituitary, where it functions to mediate GHRH-stimulated GH release. To study pituitary and somatotroph cell-specific expression of this gene, a transgenic mouse model and complementary cell culture experiments were developed. The activity of the 1.6-kb proximal rat GHRH receptor promoter was examined in vivo by generating transgenic mice with the promoter directing expression of a luciferase reporter. The promoter directs tissue-specific expression; luciferase is highly expressed in the pituitary but absent from 14 other tissues. Immunocytochemistry experiments show that transgene expression is targeted to GH-expressing somatotroph cells. The transgene is 5-fold more highly expressed in males than females, and there is an increase in transgene expression leading up to the onset of puberty. The 1.6-kb promoter was further examined in cell culture experiments, which revealed that the promoter is selectively activated in pituitary cells and that promoter-reporter expression in nonpituitary cells can be enhanced by the pituitary-specific transcription factor Pit-1. EMSAs identified 10 short regions that specifically bind Pit-1 with highly variable relative affinities. The highest affinity site was previously identified and is required for Pit-1 activation of the promoter. Four additional sites contribute to Pit-1 regulation of the promoter and are important to achieving full activation of the gene. The results show that the 1.6-kb promoter is sufficient to direct tissue- and cell-specific expression in vivo and is regulated by Pit-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1969-1983
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology

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