The coordination of pituitary development is complicated and requires input from multiple cellular processes. Recent research has provided insight into key molecular determinants that govern cell fate specification in the pituitary. Moreover, increasing research aimed to identify, characterize, and functionally describe the presumptive pituitary stem cell population has allowed for a better understanding of the processes that govern endocrine cell differentiation in the developing pituitary. The culmination of this research has led to the ability of investigators to recapitulate some of embryonic pituitary development in vitro, the first steps to developing novel regenerative therapies for pituitary diseases. In this current review, we cover the major players in pituitary stem/progenitor cell function and maintenance, and the key molecular determinants of endocrine cell specification. In addition, we discuss the contribution of peripheral hormonal regulation of pituitary gland development, an understudied area of research.
Key transcription factors, extracellular molecular networks, and hormones work in concert to coordinate lineage specification and differentiation in the developing pituitary.