Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)-directed induction of the CREM gene in the thyroid gland participates in the long-term desensitization of the TSH receptor.
Thyroid gland function is regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary axis via the secretion of TSH, according to environmental, developmental, and circadian stimuli. TSH modulates both the secretion of thyroid hormone and gland trophism through interaction with a specific guanine nucleotide-binding protein-coupled receptor (TSH receptor; TSH-R), which elicits the activation of the cAMP-dependent signaling pathway. After TSH stimulation, the levels of TSH-R RNA are known to decrease dramatically within a few hours. This phenomenon ultimately leads to homologous long-term desensitization of the TSH-R. Here we show that TSH drives the induction of the inducible cAMP early repressor (ICER) isoform of the cAMP response element (CRE) modulator gene both in rat thyroid gland and in the differentiated thyroid cell line FRTL-5. The kinetics of ICER protein induction mirrors the down-regulation of TSH-R mRNA. ICER binds to a CRE-like sequence in the TSH-R promoter and represses its expression. Thus, ICER induction by TSH in the thyroid gland represents a paradigm of the molecular mechanism by which pituitary hormones elicit homologous long-term desensitization.