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Physiol Rev. 2000 Jul;80(3):1083-105.

Molecular analysis of the sodium/iodide symporter: impact on thyroid and extrathyroid pathophysiology.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


The Na(+)/I(-) symporter (NIS) is an intrinsic membrane protein that mediates the active transport of iodide into the thyroid and other tissues, such as salivary glands, gastric mucosa, and lactating mammary gland. NIS plays key roles in thyroid pathophysiology as the route by which iodide reaches the gland for thyroid hormone biosynthesis and as a means for diagnostic scintigraphic imaging and for radioiodide therapy in hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer. The molecular characterization of NIS started with the 1996 isolation of a cDNA encoding rat NIS and has since continued at a rapid pace. Anti-NIS antibodies have been prepared and used to study NIS topology and its secondary structure. The biogenesis and posttranslational modifications of NIS have been examined, a thorough electrophysiological analysis of NIS has been conducted, the cDNA encoding human NIS (hNIS) has been isolated, the genomic organization of hNIS has been elucidated, the regulation of NIS by thyrotropin and I(-) has been analyzed, the regulation of NIS transcription has been studied, spontaneous NIS mutations have been identified as causes of congenital iodide transport defect resulting in hypothyroidism, the roles of NIS in thyroid cancer and thyroid autoimmune disease have been examined, and the expression and regulation of NIS in extrathyroidal tissues have been investigated. In gene therapy experiments, the rat NIS gene has been transduced into various types of human cells, which then exhibited active iodide transport and became susceptible to destruction with radioiodide. The continued molecular analysis of NIS clearly holds the potential of an even greater impact on a wide spectrum of fields, ranging from structure/function of transport proteins to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, both in the thyroid and beyond.

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