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J Biol Chem. 1994 Dec 30;269(52):33135-9.

Thyroid hormone metabolism in a transthyretin-null mouse strain.

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  • 1Institute of Cancer Research, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032.


Transthyretin (TTR) is the principal carrier of thyroid hormones in rodent plasma and the major protein synthesized by the choroid plexus. Mice lacking TTR generated by targeted disruption (Episkopou, V., Maeda, S., Nishiguchi, S., Shimada, K., Gaitanaris, G. A., Gottesman, M. E., and Robertson, E. J. (1993) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 90, 2375-2379) had a 50% decrease in total thyroxine (T4) plasma levels but had normal free hormone levels as compared to wild-type mice. In the mutant serum there was increased T4 binding to thyroxine-binding globulin. Thyroxine-binding globulin mRNA levels were the same in mutant and wild-type animals. Wild-type serum depleted of TTR also presented increased T4 binding to thyroxine-binding globulin, suggesting that TTR competes with thyroxine-binding globulin for T4 binding. Total and free triiodothyronine and thyrotoropin-stimulating hormone levels were not affected by the absence of TTR. Liver deiodinase-I activity, mRNA levels, and brain deiodinase-II activity were normal in the mutant mice, suggesting that the absence of TTR does not affect tissue thyroid hormone content. The low T4 levels found in the mutant mice sera cannot be accounted for by increased glucuronidation because the liver activity of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase was not affected in the TTR-deficient mice. We concluded that transthyretin-deficient mice are euthyroid in the absence of the major plasma T4 carrier. We ascribed this to the normal free hormone levels in the serum of the mutant mice. Our data, therefore, strongly supported the free hormone hypothesis for thyroxine uptake (Mendel, C. M. (1989) Endocr. Rev. 10, 232-274).

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