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We have generated transgenic mice with somatotroph-specific expression of a modified influenza virus ion channel, (H37A)M2, leading to ablation of GH cells with three levels of severity, dependent on transgene copy number. GH-M2(low) mice grow normally and have normal-size pituitaries but 40-50% reduction in pituitary GH content in adult animals. GH-M2(med) mice have male-specific transient growth retardation and a reduction in pituitary GH content by 75% at 42 d and 97% by 100 d. GH-M2(high) mice are severely dwarfed with undetectable pituitary GH. The GH secretory response of GH-M2(low) and GH-M2(med) mice to GH-releasing peptide-6 and GHRH was markedly attenuated. The content of other pituitary hormones was affected depending on transgene copy number: no effect in GH-M2(low) mice, prolactin and TSH reduced in GH-M2(med) mice, and all hormones reduced in GH-M2(high) mice. The effect on non-GH hormone content was associated with increased macrophage invasion of the pituitary. Somatotroph ablation affected GH cell network organization with limited disruption in GH-M2(low) mice but more severe disruption in GH-M2(med) mice. The remaining somatotrophs formed tight clusters after puberty, which contrasts with GHRH-M2 mice with a secondary reduction in somatotrophs that do not form clusters. A reduction in pituitary beta-catenin staining was correlated with GH-M2 transgene copy number, suggesting M2 expression has an effect on cell-cell communication in somatotrophs and other pituitary cell types. GH-M2 transgenic mice demonstrate that differing degrees of somatotroph ablation lead to correlated secondary effects on cell populations and cellular network organization.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





234 - 243


Animals, Cell Communication, Cell Count, Dwarfism, Pituitary, Endocrine Cells, Female, Gene Dosage, Genes, Transgenic, Suicide, Human Growth Hormone, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred CBA, Mice, Transgenic, Organ Size, Organ Specificity, Pituitary Gland, Somatotrophs, Viral Matrix Proteins