Differential expression of thyroid hormone receptor isoforms in neurons and astroglial cells

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Department of Physiology; Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism

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Animals; Astrocytes; Blotting, Northern; Brain; Cells, Cultured; Cytarabine; Female; Fluorescent Antibody Technique; *Gene Expression; Neurons; PC12 Cells; RNA, Messenger; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Receptors, Thyroid Hormone


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


The brain has abundant nuclear T3-binding sites and contains messenger RNAs (mRNAs) encoding multiple thyroid hormone receptor (TR) isoforms; the cellular distribution of these different TR isoforms is unknown. To determine whether the TR isoforms are differentially expressed in neuronal and astroglial cells, we examined the relative abundance of the mRNAs encoding TR alpha 1, c-erbA alpha 2, and TR beta 1 in primary cultures of fetal rat brain and in several cell lines of neural and glial origin. Additionally, the TR isoform polypeptides were identified by immunocytochemistry using isoform-specific antibodies. Northern blot analysis showed that fetal brain cell cultures contain mRNAs encoding the T3-binding isoforms TR alpha 1 and TR beta 1 as well as the mRNA encoding the non-T3-binding c-erbA alpha 2. c-erbA alpha 2 mRNA was most abundant, comprising more than 85% of the TR mRNAs in the primary cultures. Neuronal enrichment by antimitotic selection increased TR beta 1 mRNA approximately 3-fold, decreased c-erbA alpha 2 mRNA 70%, and had little or no effect on TR alpha 1 mRNA. Neuronal depletion resulted in the complete loss of TR beta 1 mRNA without changing c-erb alpha 2 or TR alpha 1 mRNA levels. Primary cultures of rat astrocytes, the astrocytoma cell line C6, and the pheochromocytoma cell line PC12 contained only the c-erbA alpha 2 mRNA. Immunocytochemistry using isoform-specific anti-sera revealed that TR beta 1 was exclusively localized to neuronal nuclei, and c-erbA alpha 2 was only found in the nuclei of astrocytes. These results show that TR beta 1 is localized to the nuclei of neuronal cells, and that c-erbA alpha 2 is restricted to the nuclei of astrocytes.


Endocrinology. 1994 Aug;135(2):548-55.

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