Neural plate progenitors give rise to both anterior and posterior pituitary cells


The pituitary is the master neuroendocrine gland, which regulates body homeostasis. It consists of the anterior pituitary/adenohypophysis harboring hormones producing cells and the posterior pituitary/neurohypophysis, which relays the passage of hormones from the brain to the periphery. It is accepted that the adenohypophysis originates from the oral ectoderm (Rathke's pouch), whereas the neural ectoderm contributes to the neurohypophysis. Single-cell transcriptomics of the zebrafish pituitary showed that cyp26b1-positive astroglial pituicytes of the neurohypophysis and prop1-positive adenohypophyseal progenitors expressed common markers implying lineage relatedness. Genetic tracing identifies that, in contrast to the prevailing dogma, neural plate precursors of zebrafish (her4.3+) and mouse (Sox1+) contribute to both neurohypophyseal and a subset of adenohypophyseal cells. Pituicyte-derived retinoic-acid-degrading enzyme Cyp26b1 fine-tunes differentiation of prop1+ progenitors into hormone-producing cells. These results challenge the notion that adenohypophyseal cells are exclusively derived from non-neural ectoderm and demonstrate that crosstalk between neuro- and adeno-hypophyseal cells affects differentiation of pituitary cells.

Journal details

Volume 58
Issue number 23
Pages 2652-2665.e6
Available online
Publication date