It has been established that thyroid hormone and neurotrophic factors both orchestrate developmental events in the brain. However, it is not clear how these two influences are related. In this study, we investigated the effects of thyroid hormone on cerebellar development and the coincident expression of transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-α), a ligand in the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family, and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Profiles of thyroid hormone expression were measured in postnatal animals and were found to peak at postnatal day 15 (P15). These levels dropped below detectable levels when mice were made hypothyroid with propylthiouracil (PTU). TGF-α and EGFR expression, as determined by RNAse protection assay, was maximal at P6 in normal animals, but remained low in hypothyroid animals, suggesting that thyroid hormone was responsible for their induction. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analysis of EGFR expression revealed that this receptor was present on granule cells within the inner zone of the external granule cell layer (EGL), suggesting that EGFR-ligands were not inducing granule cell proliferation. The persistence of EGFR expression on migrating granule cells and subsequent down-regulation of expression in the internal granule cell layer (IGL) implicates a role for EGFR-ligands in differentiation and/or migration. In hypothyroid animals, we observed a delayed progression of granule cell migration, consistent with the persistence of EGFR labeling in the EGL, and in the 'pile-up' of labeled cells at the interface between the molecular layer and the Purkinje cell layer. Taken together, these results implicate thyroid hormone in the coordinated expression of TGF-α and EGFR, which are positioned to play a role in post-mitotic developmental events in the cerebellum.
- Epidermal growth factor receptor
- Thyroid hormone
- Transforming growth factor-alpha
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology