Stanko S. Stojilkovic, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Section on Cellular Signaling


10 8N240


Research Topics

Signaling and Secretion in Neuroendocrine Cells

The main goal of our study is to understand how hypothalamic and pituitary cells use ion channels and G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) as signaling platforms for efficiently information processing, both intercellularly and intracellularly. To achieve this, the lab consists of an interdisciplinary team and associates with experience in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, fluorescent imaging, electrophysiology, and mathematical modeling. Initially, our studies focused on voltage-gated ion channels and their role in calcium signaling and gene expression in relation to hormone synthesis, secretory vesicles packaging, and exocytosis. We followed this research with studies on the identification of channels critical for the cell type-specific electrical activity and action potential-dependent cellular processes. In parallel to these studies, we investigated the oscillatory and non-oscillatory gating modes of inositol trisphosphate receptor channels associated with intracellular calcium signaling, and synchronization of electrical activity with calcium transients. More recently, we have found that pituitary cells express several types of ligand-gated receptor channels, including purinergic P2X channels, and we have studied their role in electrical activity, calcium signaling, and calcium dependent cellular functions. The main focus in these studies was on the structural and functional characterization and gating properties of P2X channels, and on their functional interaction with pannexin channels. Our main interest with GPCRs is on gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptors and their role in electrical activity, intracellular signaling, gene expression, and secretion in pituitary gonadotrophs. In parallel to studies on cation channels and GPCR physiology, we have established collaborative work on mathematical modeling of our experimental findings to provide a better understanding of the signaling properties of these molecules. The current focus of our research is on the genetic and functional heterogeneity of anterior pituitary cells, the dependence of postnatal expansion and maintenance of pituitary lineages on PI 4-kinases and protein tyrosine phosphatase receptors, as well as on the cell type-specific expression pattern of proton sensing receptors and channels in pituitary gland.


Dr. Stanko Stojilkovic received a Ph.D. in Physiology and Neuroendocrinology from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, in 1982. He was Assistant Professor of Physiology at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, before joining NICHD as a Guest Researcher in 1985, where he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Kevin J. Catt. Dr. Stojilkovic became an Investigator in 1993, leading the Section on Cellular Signaling, and then Senior Investigator in 1998, both within the Endocrinology and Reproduction Research Branch of NICHD.  His work has earned the group recognition, which is reflected in 280 publications, including several review articles and chapters in university textbooks, and approximately 100 seminar and conference invitations. Dr. Stojilkovic is member of the Endocrine Society, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Neuroendocrine Society, and Society for Neuroscience. He has also been inducted into the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (2003) and has received a Doctor Honoris Causa (2010) from the University of Novi Sad. He is/was on Editorial Boards of eight journals, including Endocrinology, Molecular Endocrinology, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Selected Publications

  1. Fletcher PA, Smiljanic K, Maso Prévide R, Iben JR, Li T, Rokic MB, Sherman A, Coon SL, Stojilkovic SS. Cell Type- and Sex-Dependent Transcriptome Profiles of Rat Anterior Pituitary Cells. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019;10:623.

  2. Janjic MM, Prévide RM, Fletcher PA, Sherman A, Smiljanic K, Abebe D, Bjelobaba I, Stojilkovic SS. Divergent expression patterns of pituitary gonadotropin subunit and GnRH receptor genes to continuous GnRH in vitro and in vivo. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):20098.

  3. Stojilkovic SS, Bjelobaba I, Zemkova H. Ion Channels of Pituitary Gonadotrophs and Their Roles in Signaling and Secretion. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017;8:126.

  4. Zemkova H, Tomić M, Kucka M, Aguilera G, Stojilkovic SS. Spontaneous and CRH-Induced Excitability and Calcium Signaling in Mice Corticotrophs Involves Sodium, Calcium, and Cation-Conducting Channels. Endocrinology. 2016;157(4):1576-89.

  5. Prévide RM, Wang K, Smiljanic K, Janjic MM, Nunes MT, Stojilkovic SS. Expression and Role of Thyrotropin Receptors in Proopiomelanocortin-Producing Pituitary Cells. Thyroid. 2021;31(5):850-858.

This page was last updated on September 1st, 2021