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Genetics of growth hormone gene expression.

The regulation of pituitary GH gene expression depends on binding of transcriptional activation proteins to cis-active DNA sequences preceding the GH-1 gene. The POU homeodomain protein Pit-1 is found in the nuclei of somatotrophs, lactotrophs and thyrotrophs. It fosters differentiation of these pituitary cell types and is required for hormone production by mature cells. In theory, defects in GH secretion can be caused by mutations in the GH-1 promoter sequence or in the gene encoding Pit-1. In the former case, deficiency would be limited to GH, and in the latter deficiencies extend to prolactin (Prl) and thyrotropin (TSH) as well as to GH. Both the Pit-1 gene and the GH-1 gene have been examined in children with extreme growth failure. Studies of kindreds with GH, Prl and TSH deficiency have disclosed a variety of mutations in the Pit-1 gene. These include nonsense mutations, missense mutations that diminish binding and transcriptional activation, and also mutations that appear to increase promoter binding while eliminating transcriptional activation. This latter class of mutation exerts a dominant negative effect in vivo as well as in vitro. There are many examples of deletions in the GH-1 coding sequence. Some are very large and cause the loss of GH-1, chorionic somatomammotropin and placental GH genes. Others are very small, involving only 1 or 2 bases. They produce frameshifts and premature stop signals. All types produce complete deficiency of GH, but antibody development during treatment has proven to be quite variable. The cDNA for the GH-releasing hormone receptor has recently been cloned and sequenced.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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