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George G J M Kuiper, Willem Klootwijk and Theo J Visser

The bioactivity of thyroid hormone is determined to a large extent by the monodeiodination of the prohormone thyroxine (T4) by the hepatic selenoenzyme type I iodothyronine deiodinase (D1), i.e. by outer ring deiodination (ORD) to the active hormone triiodothyronine (T3) or by inner ring deiodination (IRD) to the inactive metabolite reverse T3 (rT3). Since D1 is a membrane-bound protein with an N-terminal membrane-spanning domain, the enzyme is very difficult to purify in an active state. This study was undertaken in order to develop a heterologous (over)-expression system that would eventually allow the production of large amounts of purified active D1 protein. We have expressed a mutant rat D1 protein, in which the selenocysteine residue in the core catalytic center was replaced by cysteine (D1 Cys) in yeast cells (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). After yeast cell fractionation, kinetic analysis was performed with dithiothreitol as reducing cofactor. ORD activity was associated with membrane fractions, while no activity could be detected in the cytosolic fraction. The D1 Cys protein displayed a tenfold increase in K m (2 μM) for rT3 as compared with native D1 protein in rat liver microsomes. The D1 protein content is about 65 pmol/mg microsomal protein, as compared with about 3 pmol/mg in rat liver microsomal fraction. SDS-PAGE analysis of N-bromoacetyl-[125I]T3 affinity-labeled D1 protein showed several labeled protein isoforms with apparent molecular masses between 27 and 32 kDa. Immunoblot analysis with a specific D1 antiserum confirmed the observed D1 protein heterogeneity. Site-directed mutagenesis of several potential N-linked glycosylation sites, phosphorylation sites and a unique myristoylation site established that D1 heterogeneity is not caused by N-linked glycosylation, but probably by a combination of O-linked glycosylation and phosphorylation. Deletion of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-signal sequence and the membrane-spanning domain (amino acid residue 2–35), did not result in the production of a soluble D1 enzyme. Although this mutated D1 protein is inactive, the fact that it is still membrane bound indicates the existence of additional membrane attachment site(s) or membrane-spanning domains. Overall, our studies indicate that yeast cells provide a useful system for the expression of relatively high levels of D1 protein which could be used for further structure–function analysis.

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Wendy M van der Deure, Robin P Peeters and Theo J Visser

Thyroid hormone is a pleiotropic hormone with widespread biological actions. For instance, adequate levels of thyroid hormone are critical for the development of different tissues such as the central nervous system, but are also essential for the regulation of metabolic processes throughout life. The biological activity of thyroid hormone depends not only on serum thyroid hormone levels, but is also regulated at the tissue level by the expression and activity of deiodinases, which activate thyroid hormone or mediate its degradation. In addition, thyroid hormone transporters are necessary for the uptake of thyroid hormone into target tissues. With the discovery of monocarboxylate transporter 8 (MCT8) as a specific thyroid hormone transporter and the finding that mutations in this transporter lead to a syndrome of severe psychomotor retardation and elevated serum 3,3′,5-tri-iodothyronine levels known as the Allan–Herndon–Dudley syndrome, the interest in this area of research has greatly increased. In this review, we will focus on the molecular aspects of thyroid hormone transporters, including MCT8, MCT10, organic anion transporting polypeptides, and the effects of genetic variation in these transporters.