Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Reprogramming cell identity in the pituitary gland

17.10.2012
A discovery by IRCM researchers could lead to new treatments for Cushing’s disease

A team of researchers at the IRCM, supervised by Dr. Jacques Drouin, reprogrammed the identity of cells in the pituitary gland and identified critical mechanisms of epigenetic cell programming. This important discovery, published today by the scientific journal Genes & Development, could eventually lead to new pharmacological targets for the treatment of Cushing’s disease.

Dr. Drouin’s team studies the pituitary gland, which is the master gland located at the base of the skull that secretes hormones to control all other glands of the endocrine system. Disruption of pituitary functions has dire consequences on growth, reproduction and metabolism.

Within the pituitary gland, each hormone is produced by cells of a different lineage. Unique cell identities are created by cell-specific genetic programs that are implemented during development. Appropriate cell programming is a critical process that needs to be harnessed in order to exploit the therapeutic benefits of stem cell research.

In their work, the IRCM researchers showed that the transcription factor Pax7 has pioneering abilities, meaning that it is able to open the tightly-packed chromatin structure of specific regions of the genome. This unmasking of a subset of the genome’s regulatory sequences changes the genome’s response to differentiation signals such that different cell types are generated.

“We reprogrammed the identity of pituitary cells by using the Pax7 gene in order to create two different types of cells,” says Lionel Budry, former student in Dr. Drouin’s laboratory and first author of the article. “This allowed us to show that the Tpit protein produces different cell lineages according to the presence or absence of Pax7, and its impact on chromatin organisation.”

Cushing’s disease is caused by small tumours of the pituitary gland that produce excessive amounts of hormones. For patients with this disease, the abnormal hormone production can lead to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis.

“For approximately 10% of patients suffering from Cushing’s disease, we found that the disease-causing tumours contain cells that express the Pax7 protein,” explains Dr. Drouin, Director of the Molecular Genetics research unit at the IRCM. “No effective pharmacological treatment currently exists for Cushing’s disease. This discovery could ultimately lead to the development of such treatment, based on tumour growth inhibition by hormones, similarly to what is already done for other pituitary tumours like lactotrope adenomas.”

About the research project
This research project was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute. Contributors from Jacques Drouin’s laboratory also include Aurélio Balsalobre, Yves Gauthier, Konstantin Khetchoumian, Aurore L’Honoré and Sophie Vallette. In addition, IRCM scientists worked in collaboration with researchers from the Université de la Méditerranée and Hopital La Timone, Marseille in France and Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

For more information on this discovery, please refer to the article summary published online by Genes & Development.

About Dr. Jacques Drouin
Jacques Drouin obtained his Doctor of Science in Physiology from te Université Laval. He is IRCM Research Professor and Director of the Molecular Genetics research unit. Dr. Drouin is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Université de Montréal. He is also associate member of the Department of Medicine (Division of Experimental Medicine), adjunct professor of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and adjunct member of the Department of Biochemistry at McGill University. In addition, he is an elected member of the Academy of Sciences of the Royal Society of Canada. For more information, visit www.ircm.qc.ca/drouin.
About the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM)
Founded in 1967, the IRCM (www.ircm.qc.ca) is currently comprised of 37 research units in various fields, namely immunity and viral infections, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, cancer, neurobiology and development, systems biology and medicinal chemistry. It also houses three specialized research clinics, eight core facilities and three research platforms with state-of-the-art equipment. The IRCM employs 425 people and is an independent institution affiliated with the Université de Montréal. The IRCM clinic is associated to the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). The IRCM also maintains a long-standing association with McGill University.

For more information and to schedule an interview with Dr. Drouin, please contact:

Julie Langelier
Communications Officer (IRCM)
julie.langelier@ircm.qc.ca
(514) 987-5555
Lucette Thériault
Communications Director (IRCM)
lucette.theriault@ircm.qc.ca
(514) 987-5535

Julie Langelier | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ircm.qc.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New image of a cancer-related enzyme in action helps explain gene regulation
05.06.2020 | Penn State

nachricht Protecting the Neuronal Architecture
05.06.2020 | Universität Heidelberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Restoring vision by gene therapy

Latest scientific findings give hope for people with incurable retinal degeneration

Humans rely dominantly on their eyesight. Losing vision means not being able to read, recognize faces or find objects. Macular degeneration is one of the major...

Im Focus: Small Protein, Big Impact

In meningococci, the RNA-binding protein ProQ plays a major role. Together with RNA molecules, it regulates processes that are important for pathogenic properties of the bacteria.

Meningococci are bacteria that can cause life-threatening meningitis and sepsis. These pathogens use a small protein with a large impact: The RNA-binding...

Im Focus: K-State study reveals asymmetry in spin directions of galaxies

Research also suggests the early universe could have been spinning

An analysis of more than 200,000 spiral galaxies has revealed unexpected links between spin directions of galaxies, and the structure formed by these links...

Im Focus: New measurement exacerbates old problem

Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades: their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.

Hot astrophysical plasmas fill the intergalactic space, and brightly shine in stellar coronae, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants. They contain...

Im Focus: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

New image of a cancer-related enzyme in action helps explain gene regulation

05.06.2020 | Life Sciences

Silicon 'neurons' may add a new dimension to computer processors

05.06.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Protecting the Neuronal Architecture

05.06.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>