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Genesis. 2017 Jan;55(1-2). doi: 10.1002/dvg.23000.

Frogs model man: In vivo thyroid hormone signaling during development.

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UMR 7221 CNRS, Muséum National d'histoire Naturelle, Dépt. Régulation, Développement et Diversité Moléculaire, Sorbonne Universités, Paris, 75005, France.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45221.


Thyroid hormone (TH) signaling comprises TH transport across cell membranes, metabolism by deiodinases, and molecular mechanisms of gene regulation. Proper TH signaling is essential for normal perinatal development, most notably for neurogenesis and fetal growth. Knowledge of perinatal TH endocrinology needs improvement to provide better treatments for premature infants and endocrine diseases during gestation and to counteract effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Studies in amphibians have provided major insights to understand in vivo mechanisms of TH signaling. The frog model boasts dramatic TH-dependent changes directly observable in free-living tadpoles with precise and easy experimental control of the TH response at developmental stages comparable to fetal stages in mammals. The hormones, their receptors, molecular mechanisms, and developmental roles of TH signaling are conserved to a high degree in humans and amphibians, such that with respect to developmental TH signaling "frogs are just little people that hop." The frog model is exceptionally illustrative of fundamental molecular mechanisms of in vivo TH action involving TH receptors, transcriptional cofactors, and chromatin remodeling. This review highlights the current need, recent successes, and future prospects using amphibians as a model to elucidate molecular mechanisms and functional roles of TH signaling during post-embryonic development.


Xenopus; amphibian; gene regulation; metamorphosis; molecular mechanism; perinatal endocrinology

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