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Hypothalamic expression of thyroid hormone-activating and -inactivating enzyme genes in relation to photorefractoriness in birds and mammals.

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  • 1Division of Biomodeling, Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences and Institute for Advanced Research, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan.


Photorefractoriness is the insensitivity of gonadal development to the stimulatory effects of long photoperiods in birds and to the inhibitory effects of short photoperiods in small mammals. Its molecular mechanism remains unknown. Recently, it has been shown that reciprocal expression of thyroid hormone-activating enzyme [type 2 deiodinase (Dio2)] and -inactivating enzyme [type 3 deiodinase (Dio3)] genes in the mediobasal hypothalamus is critical for photoperiodically induced gonadal growth. Since thyroid hormones are required not only for photoinduction, but also for the induction of photorefractoriness, we examined the expression of these genes in relation to photorefractoriness in birds and mammals. Transfer of birds to long photoperiods induced strong expression of Dio2. This was maintained in tree sparrow when they later became photorefractory, but decreased somewhat in quail. In hamsters, transfer to long photoperiods also induced strong expression of Dio2. High values were not maintained under long photoperiods, and, indeed, expression decreased at the same rate as in animals transferred to short photoperiods. There was no renewed expression of Dio2 associated with testicular growth as animals became refractory to short photoperiods. Expression of Dio3 was high under short photoperiods and low under long photoperiods in all the animals examined, except for the short photoperiod-refractory hamsters. Our present study revealed complex regulation of deiodinase genes in the photoinduction and photorefractory processes in birds and mammals. These gene changes may be involved in the regulation of photorefractoriness, as well as photoinduction.

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