Thyroid hormone action is mediated by thyroid hormone receptors (TRs), which are members of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily. DNA-binding is presumed to be essential for all nuclear actions of thyroid hormone. To test this hypothesis in vivo, the DNA-binding domain of TR-β was mutated within its P-box (GS mutant) using gene targeting techniques. This mutation in vitro completely abolishes TR-β DNA-binding, while preserving ligand (T3) and cofactor interactions with the receptor. Homozygous mutant (TR-βGS/GS) mice displayed abnormal T3 regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis and retina identical to abnormalities previously observed in TR-β KO (TR-β–/–) mice. However, TR-βGS/GS mutant mice maintained normal hearing at certain frequencies and did not display significant outer hair cell loss, in contrast to TR-β–/– mice. DNA-binding, therefore, is essential for many functions of the TR, including retinal development and negative feedback regulation by thyroid hormone of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. Inner ear development, although not completely normal, can occur in the absence of TR DNA-binding, suggesting that an alternative and perhaps novel thyroid hormone-signaling pathway may mediate these effects.


Nobuyuki Shibusawa, Koshi Hashimoto, Amisra A. Nikrodhanond, M. Charles Liberman, Meredithe L. Applebury, Xiao Hui Liao, Janet T. Robbins, Samuel Refetoff, Ronald N. Cohen, Fredric E. Wondisford


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