A tissue-specific enhancer confers Pit-1-dependent morphogen inducibility and autoregulation on the pit-1 gene

Simon J. Rhodes, Ruoping Chen, Gabriel E. DiMattia, Kathleen M. Scully, Kristin A. Kalla, Sheng Cai Lin, Victor C. Yu, Michael G. Rosenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

190 Scopus citations


Pit-1 is a tissue-specific POU domain factor obligatory for the appearance of three cell phenotypes in the anterior pituitary gland. Expression of the pit-1 gene requires the actions of a cell-specific 390-bp enhancer, located 10 kb 5′ of the pit-1 transcription initiation site, within sequence that proves essential for effective pituitary targeting of transgene expression during murine development. The enhancer requires the concerted actions of a cell-specific cis-active element, Pit-1 autoregulatory sites, and atypical morphogen response elements. Pituitary ontogeny in the Pit-1-defective Snell dwarf mouse reveals that pit-1 autoregulation is not required for initial activation or continued expression during critical phases of Pit-1 target gene activation but, subsequently, is necessary for maintenance of pit-1 gene expression following birth. A potent 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3-responsive enhancer element defines a physiological site in which a single nucleotide alteration in the sequence of core binding motifs modulates the spacing rules for nuclear receptor response elements. Unexpectedly, the major retinoic acid response element is absolutely dependent on Pit-1 for retinoic acid receptor function. On this DNA element, Pit-1 appears to function as a coregulator of the retinoic acid receptor, suggesting an intriguing linkage between a cell-specific transcription factor and the actions of morphogen receptors that is likely to be prototypic of mechanisms by which other cell-specific transcription factors might confer morphogen receptor responsivity during mammalian organogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-932
Number of pages20
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1993



  • Enhancer
  • Morphogen
  • Pit-1
  • Pituitary
  • Retinoic acid
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology

Cite this

Rhodes, S. J., Chen, R., DiMattia, G. E., Scully, K. M., Kalla, K. A., Lin, S. C., Yu, V. C., & Rosenfeld, M. G. (1993). A tissue-specific enhancer confers Pit-1-dependent morphogen inducibility and autoregulation on the pit-1 gene. Genes and Development, 7(6), 913-932. https://doi.org/10.1101/gad.7.6.913