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An integrated single-cell analysis of human adrenal cortex development. JCI insight The adrenal glands synthesize and release essential steroid hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone, but many aspects of human adrenal gland development are not well understood. Here, we combined single-cell and bulk RNA sequencing, spatial transcriptomics, IHC, and micro-focus computed tomography to investigate key aspects of adrenal development in the first 20 weeks of gestation. We demonstrate rapid adrenal growth and vascularization, with more cell division in the outer definitive zone (DZ). Steroidogenic pathways favored androgen synthesis in the central fetal zone, but DZ capacity to synthesize cortisol and aldosterone developed with time. Core transcriptional regulators were identified, with localized expression of HOPX (also known as Hop homeobox/homeobox-only protein) in the DZ. Potential ligand-receptor interactions between mesenchyme and adrenal cortex were seen (e.g., RSPO3/LGR4). Growth-promoting imprinted genes were enriched in the developing cortex (e.g., IGF2, PEG3). These findings reveal aspects of human adrenal development and have clinical implications for understanding primary adrenal insufficiency and related postnatal adrenal disorders, such as adrenal tumor development, steroid disorders, and neonatal stress. 10.1172/jci.insight.168177
Delta-like and gtl2 are reciprocally expressed, differentially methylated linked imprinted genes on mouse chromosome 12. Takada S,Tevendale M,Baker J,Georgiades P,Campbell E,Freeman T,Johnson M H,Paulsen M,Ferguson-Smith A C Current biology : CB The distal portion of mouse chromosome 12 is imprinted. To date, however, Gtl2 is the only imprinted gene identified on chromosome 12. Gtl2 encodes multiple alternatively spliced transcripts with no apparent open reading frame. Using conceptuses with maternal or paternal uniparental disomy for chromosome 12 (UPD12), we found that Gtl2 is expressed from the maternal allele and methylated at the 5' end of the silent paternal allele. A reciprocally imprinted gene, Delta-like (Dlk), with homology to genes involved in the Notch signalling pathway was identified 80kb upstream of Gtl2. Dlk was expressed exclusively from the paternal allele in both the embryo and placenta, but the CpG-island promoter of Dlk was completely unmethylated on both parental alleles. Rather, a paternally methylated region was identified in the last exon of the active Dlk allele. The proximity, reciprocal imprinting and methylation in this domain are reminiscent of the co-ordinately regulated Igf2-H19 imprinted domain on mouse chromosome 7. Like H19 and Igf2, Gtl2 and Dlk were found to be co-expressed in the same tissues throughout development, though not after birth. These results have implications for the regulation, function and evolution of imprinted domains.