The function of the adult thyroid is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which acts through a G protein–coupled receptor. Overactivation of the TSH receptor results in hyperthyroidism and goiter. The Gs-mediated stimulation of adenylyl cyclase–dependent cAMP formation has been regarded as the principal intracellular signaling mechanism mediating the action of TSH. Here we show that the Gq/G11-mediated signaling pathway plays an unexpected and essential role in the regulation of thyroid function. Mice lacking the α subunits of Gq and G11 specifically in thyroid epithelial cells showed severely reduced iodine organification and thyroid hormone secretion in response to TSH, and many developed hypothyroidism within months after birth. In addition, thyrocyte-specific Gαq/Gα11-deficient mice lacked the normal proliferative thyroid response to TSH or goitrogenic diet, indicating an essential role of this pathway in the adaptive growth of the thyroid gland. Our data suggest that Gq/G11 and their downstream effectors are promising targets to interfere with increased thyroid function and growth.
Jukka Kero, Kashan Ahmed, Nina Wettschureck, Sorin Tunaru, Tim Wintermantel, Erich Greiner, Günther Schütz, Stefan Offermanns