The Fuzzy planar cell polarity protein (FUZ), necessary for primary cilium formation, is essential for pituitary development

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The primary cilium is an essential organelle that is important for normal cell signalling during development and homeostasis but its role in pituitary development has not been reported. The primary cilium facilitates signal transduction for multiple pathways, the best-characterised being the SHH pathway, which is known to be necessary for correct pituitary gland development. FUZ is a planar cell polarity (PCP) effector that is essential for normal ciliogenesis, where the primary cilia of Fuz−/−mutants are shorter or non-functional. FUZ is part of a group of proteins required for recruiting retrograde intraflagellar transport proteins to the base of the organelle. Previous work has reported ciliopathy phenotypes in Fuz−/− homozygous null mouse mutants, including neural tube defects, craniofacial abnormalities, and polydactyly, alongside PCP defects including kinked/curly tails and heart defects. Interestingly, the pituitary gland was reported to be missing in Fuz−/− mutants at 14.5 dpc but the mechanisms underlying this phenotype were not investigated. Here, we have analysed the pituitary development of Fuz−/− mutants. Histological analyses reveal that Rathke's pouch (RP) is initially induced normally but is not specified and fails to express LHX3, resulting in hypoplasia and apoptosis. Characterisation of SHH signalling reveals reduced pathway activation in Fuz−/− mutant relative to control embryos, leading to deficient specification of anterior pituitary fate. Analyses of the key developmental signals FGF8 and BMP4, which are influenced by SHH, reveal abnormal patterning in the ventral diencephalon, contributing further to abnormal RP development. Taken together, our analyses suggest that primary cilia are required for normal pituitary specification through SHH signalling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-367
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • FUZ
  • pituitary development
  • primary cilium
  • SHH signalling

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