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J Nucl Med. 2005 May;46(5):831-9.

Effects of Pax8 and TTF-1 thyroid transcription factor gene transfer in hepatoma cells: imaging of functional protein-protein interaction and iodide uptake.

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Clinical Cooperation Unit of Nuclear Medicine, German Cancer Research Center, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


The thyroid transcription factors TTF-1 and Pax8 cooperate in the transcriptional activation of thyroid-specific genes such as thyroglobulin (Tg), thyroperoxidase (TPO), and sodium/iodide symporter (NIS).


Dog TTF-1 (dTTF-1) and the human Pax8 (hPax8) gene were transfected in Morris hepatoma (MH3924A) cells to investigate (a) the possible visualization of functional protein-protein interaction and (b) the induction of thyroid-specific gene expression. In MH3924A cell lines expressing dTTF-1, hPax8, or both, the activation of human Tg (hTg), human TPO (hTPO), or rat NIS (rNIS) promoter/enhancer was measured using firefly luciferase reporter constructs. Furthermore, the possible induction of thyroid-specific genes was investigated in iodide uptake and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) experiments.


Low transcriptional activation of these constructs was observed in cells expressing either hPax8 or dTTF-1 alone. In contrast, the hTg and hTPO and, to a lesser extent, the rNIS regulatory region were significantly activated in cell lines expressing both transcription factors. Imaging the transcriptional activation of the thyroid-specific regulatory regions by Pax8 and TTF-1 was possible in nude mice implanted with MHhPax8dTTF-1 cells using a cooled charge-coupled device camera. Na(125)I uptake experiments and RT-PCR showed no effect of hPax8 and dTTF-1 on endogenous thyroid-specific gene expression in genetically modified cells.


The activation of thyroid-specific promoter/enhancer elements in Morris hepatoma cells depends on the functional interaction of hPax8 and dTTF-1. The cooperation of these 2 transcription factors can be visualized in vitro as well as in vivo. With regard to a possible application for radioiodine therapy, further modifications are required.

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