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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2003 Dec 31;213(1):59-70.

Advances in Na(+)/I(-) symporter (NIS) research in the thyroid and beyond.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


The Na(+)/I(-) symporter (NIS) is a plasma membrane glycoprotein that mediates active iodide uptake in the thyroid-the essential first step in thyroid hormone biosynthesis-and in other tissues, such as salivary and lactating mammary glands. Thyroidal radioiodide uptake has been used for over 60 years in the diagnosis and effective treatment of thyroid cancer and other diseases. However, the NIS cDNA was only isolated in 1996 by expression cloning in Xenopus laevis oocytes, marking the beginning of the molecular characterization of NIS and the study of its regulation, both in the thyroid and other tissues. One of the most exciting current areas of NIS research-radioiodide treatment of extrathyroidal cancers-was launched by the discovery of functional expression of endogenous NIS in breast cancer and by the ectopic transfer of the NIS gene into otherwise non NIS-expressing cancers. This review summarizes the main findings in NIS research, emphasizing the most recent developments.

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