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BMC Dev Biol. 2008 Oct 14;8:101. doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-8-101.

Thyroid hormone components are expressed in three sequential waves during development of the chick retina.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Thyroid hormone (TH) is an important developmental regulator in many tissues, including the retina. TH is activated locally via deiodinase 2 (Dio2), and it is destroyed by deiodinase 3 (Dio3). The TH receptors, TRa and TRb, mediate TH activity through hormone and DNA binding, and interactions with transcription regulators.


In the current work, the expression of these TH components was examined in the chick retina over time. Three waves of expression were characterized and found to be correlated with critical developmental events. The first wave occurred as progenitor cells began to make photoreceptors, the second as some cell types adopted a more mature location and differentiation state, and the third as Müller glia were generated. The cell types expressing the components, as well as the kinetics of expression within the cell cycle, were defined. TRb expression initiated during G2 in progenitor cells, concomitant with NeuroD and Otx2, which are expressed in early photoreceptor cells. TRb was expressed in photoreceptor cells for several days and then was reduced in expression level, as the expression of Crx, a later photoreceptor gene, became more evident. Dio3 was expressed throughout the cell cycle in progenitor cells. TRa was in most, if not all, retinal cells. Dio2 appeared transiently in a ventral (high) to dorsal gradient, likely in a subset of photoreceptor cells.


Multiple TH components were expressed in dynamic patterns in cycling progenitor cells and photoreceptors cells across the developing chick retina. These dynamic patterns suggest that TH is playing several roles in retinal development, both within the cycling progenitor cells and possibly with respect to the timing of differentiation of photoreceptor cells.

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