Recent advances in understanding the molecular pathogenesis of congenital hypothyroid goiter in cog/cog mice, have raised important questions concerning the maturation of thyroglobulin (the thyroid prohormone) in certain human kindreds with congenital goiter. We have now examined affected siblings from two unrelated families that synthesize an apparently normally glycosylated, > 300 kD immunoreactive thyroglobulin, yet have a reduced quantity of intraglandular thyroglobulin and that secreted into the circulation. From thyroid tissues of the four patients, light microscopic approaches demonstrated presence of intracellular thyroglobulin despite its absence in thyroid follicle lumina, while electron microscopy indicated abnormal distention of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We have confirmed biochemically that most intrathyroidal thyroglobulin fails to reach the (Golgi) compartment where complex carbohydrate modification takes place. Moreover, the disease in the affected patients is associated with massive induction of specific ER molecular chaperones including the hsp90 homolog, GRP94, and the hsp70 homolog, BiP. The data suggest that these patients synthesize a mutant thyroglobulin which is defective for folding/assembly, leading to a markedly reduced ability to export the protein from the ER. Thus, these kindreds suffer from a thyroid ER storage disease, a cell biological defect phenotypically indistinguishable from that found in cog/cog mice.


G Medeiros-Neto, P S Kim, S E Yoo, J Vono, H M Targovnik, R Camargo, S A Hossain, P Arvan


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