In response to physiological demand, the pituitary gland generates new hormone-secreting cells from committed progenitor cells throughout life. It remains unclear to what extent pituitary stem cells (PSCs), which uniquely express SOX2, contribute to pituitary growth and renewal. Moreover, neither the signals that drive proliferation nor their sources have been elucidated. We have used genetic approaches in the mouse, showing that the WNT pathway is essential for proliferation of all lineages in the gland. We reveal that SOX2+ stem cells are a key source of WNT ligands. By blocking secretion of WNTs from SOX2+ PSCs in vivo, we demonstrate that proliferation of neighbouring committed progenitor cells declines, demonstrating that progenitor multiplication depends on the paracrine WNT secretion from SOX2+ PSCs. Our results indicate that stem cells can hold additional roles in tissue expansion and homeostasis, acting as paracrine signalling centres to coordinate the proliferation of neighbouring cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere59142
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2021


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