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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jan;90(1):455-62. Epub 2004 Oct 19.

PAX8, TITF1, and FOXE1 gene expression patterns during human development: new insights into human thyroid development and thyroid dysgenesis-associated malformations.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 457, Hôpital Robert Debré, Paris, France.


Thyroid dysgenesis (TD) is responsible for most cases of congenital hypothyroidism, a condition that affects about one in 4000 newborns. Mutations in PAX8, TITF1, or FOXE1 may account for congenital hypothyroidism in patients with either isolated TD or TD with associated malformations involving kidney, lung, forebrain, and palate. Pax8, titf1, and foxe1 are expressed in the mouse thyroid bud as soon as it differentiates on the pharyngeal floor. Because the spatio-temporal expression of these genes is unknown in humans, we decided to study them at different stages of human embryonic and fetal development. PAX8 and TITF1 were first expressed in the median thyroid primordium. Interestingly, PAX8 was also expressed in the thyroglossal duct and the ultimobranchial bodies. Human FOXE1 expression was detected later than in the mouse. PAX8 was also expressed in the developing central nervous system and kidney, including the ureteric bud and the main collecting ducts. TITF1 was expressed in the ventral forebrain and lung. FOXE1 expression was detected in the oropharyngeal epithelium and thymus. In conclusion, the expression patterns described here show some differences from those reported in the mouse. They explain the malformations associated with TD in patients carrying PAX8, TITF1, and FOXE1 gene mutations.

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