The anterior pituitary gland drives highly conserved physiologic processes in mammalian species. These hormonally controlled processes are central to somatic growth, pubertal transformation, fertility, lactation, and metabolism. Current cellular models of mammalian anteiror pituitary, largely built on candidate gene based immuno-histochemical and mRNA analyses, suggest that each of the seven hormones synthesized by the pituitary is produced by a specific and exclusive cell lineage. However, emerging evidence suggests more complex relationship between hormone specificity and cell plasticity. Here we have applied massively parallel single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq), in conjunction with complementary imaging-based single-cell analyses of mRNAs and proteins, to systematically map both cell-type diversity and functional state heterogeneity in adult male and female mouse pituitaries at single-cell resolution and in the context of major physiologic demands. These quantitative single-cell analyses reveal sex-specific cell-type composition under normal pituitary homeostasis, identify an array of cells associated with complex complements of hormone-enrichment, and undercover non-hormone producing interstitial and supporting cell-types. Interestingly, we also identified a Pou1f1-expressing cell population that is characterized by a unique multi-hormone gene expression profile. In response to two well-defined physiologic stresses, dynamic shifts in cellular diversity and transcriptome profiles were observed for major hormone producing and the putative multi-hormone cells. These studies reveal unanticipated cellular complexity and plasticity in adult pituitary, and provide a rich resource for further validating and expanding our molecular understanding of pituitary gene expression programs and hormone production.
The cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) synthase (cGAS) plays a critical role in host defense by sensing cytosolic DNA derived from microbial pathogens or mis-located cellular DNA. Upon DNA binding, cGAS utilizes GTP and ATP as substrates to synthesize cGAMP, leading to MITA-mediated innate immune response. In this study, we identified the phosphatase PPP6C as a negative regulator of cGASmediated innate immune response. PPP6C is constitutively associated with cGAS in un-stimulated cells. DNA virus infection causes rapid disassociation of PPP6C from cGAS, resulting in phosphorylation of human cGAS S435 or mouse cGAS S420 in its catalytic pocket. Mutation of this serine residue of cGAS impairs its ability to synthesize cGAMP upon DNA virus infection. In vitro experiments indicate that S420-phosphorylated mcGAS has higher affinity to GTP and enzymatic activity. PPP6Cdeficiency promotes innate immune response to DNA virus in various cells. Our findings suggest that PPP6Cmediated dephosphorylation of a catalytic pocket serine residue of cGAS impairs its substrate binding activity and innate immune response, which provides a mechanism for keeping the DNA sensor cGAS inactive in the absence of infection to avoid autoimmune response.