The adrenal cortex is an endocrine gland that produces steroid hormones critical for maintaining blood volume and ionic balance, as well as mediating stress responses. We recently identified adrenocortical cell populations that behave as cortical stem and progenitor cells. Our ongoing research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms that define and regulate these cells within the cortex, with a particular focus on the role of developmental signaling pathways on these processes. We are also exploring how these cells respond to physiological changes in dietary salt or stress levels, and the contributions they might make to functional remodeling of the adrenal gland. Our long-term goal is to understand the contribution that disrupted regulation of these cells might make to diseases of adrenocortical hormone deficiency or excess.
Laufer, E., Kesper, D., Vortkamp, A. & King, P. Sonic hedgehog signaling during adrenal development. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 351, 19–27 (2012).
Paul, A. & Laufer, E. Endogenous biotin as a marker of adrenocortical cells with steroidogenic potential. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 336, 133–140 (2011).
King, P., Paul, A. & Laufer, E. Shh signaling regulates adrenocortical development and identifies progenitors of steroidogenic lineages. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 106, 21185–21190 (2009).