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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Nov 26;99(24):15462-7. Epub 2002 Nov 13.

Role of the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor signaling in development and differentiation of the thyroid gland.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Stazione Zoologica A. Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Naples, Italy.


The thyroid-stimulating hormone/thyrotropin (TSH) is the most relevant hormone in the control of thyroid gland physiology in adulthood. TSH effects on the thyroid gland are mediated by the interaction with a specific TSH receptor (TSHR). We studied the role of TSHTSHR signaling on gland morphogenesis and differentiation in the mouse embryo using mouse lines deprived either of TSH (pit(dw)pit(dw)) or of a functional TSHR (tshr(hyt)tshr(hyt) and TSHR-knockout lines). The results reported here show that in the absence of either TSH or a functional TSHR, the thyroid gland develops to a normal size, whereas the expression of thyroperoxidase and the sodium/iodide symporter are reduced greatly. Conversely, no relevant changes are detected in the amounts of thyroglobulin and the thyroid-enriched transcription factors TTF-1, TTF-2, and Pax8. These data suggest that the major role of the TSH/TSHR pathway is in controlling genes involved in iodide metabolism such as sodium/iodide symporter and thyroperoxidase. Furthermore, our data indicate that in embryonic life TSH does not play an equivalent role in controlling gland growth as in the adult thyroid.

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