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Endocrinology November 1, 2012; 153 (11): 5309-24.

Beyond synergy: corticosterone and thyroid hormone have numerous interaction effects on gene regulation in Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles.

Hormones play critical roles in vertebrate development, and frog metamorphosis has been an excellent model system to study the developmental roles of thyroid hormone (TH) and glucocorticoids. Whereas TH regulates the initiation and rate of metamorphosis, the actions of corticosterone (CORT; the main glucocorticoid in frogs) are more complex. In the absence of TH during premetamorphosis, CORT inhibits development, but in the presence of TH during metamorphosis, CORT synergizes with TH to accelerate development. Synergy at the level of gene expression is known for three genes in frogs, but the nature and extent of TH and CORT cross talk is otherwise unknown. Therefore, to examine TH and CORT interactions, we performed microarray analysis on tails from Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles treated with CORT, TH, CORT+TH, or vehicle for 18 h. The expression of 5432 genes was significantly altered in response to either or both hormones. Using Venn diagrams and cluster analysis, we identified 16 main patterns of gene regulation due to up- or down-regulation by TH and/or CORT. Many genes were affected by only one of the hormones, and a large proportion of regulated genes (22%) required both hormones. We also identified patterns of additive or synergistic, inhibitory, subtractive, and annihilatory regulation. A total of 928 genes (17%) were regulated by novel interactions between the two hormones. These data expand our understanding of the hormonal cross talk underlying the gene regulation cascade directing tail resorption and suggest the possibility that CORT affects not only the timing but also the nature of TH-dependent tissue transformation.

PubMed ID: 22968645
Article link: Endocrinology