The impact of thyroid hormone in seasonal breeding has a restricted transcriptional signature
Thyroid hormone (TH) directs seasonal breeding through reciprocal regulation of TH deiodinase (Dio2/Dio3) gene expression in tanycytes in the ependymal zone of the medio-basal hypothalamus (MBH). Thyrotropin secretion by the pars tuberalis (PT) is a major photoperiod-dependent upstream regulator of Dio2/Dio3 gene expression. Long days enhance thyrotropin production, which increases Dio2 expression and suppresses Dio3 expression, thereby heightening TH signaling in the MBH. Short days appear to exert the converse effect. Here, we combined endocrine profiling and transcriptomics to understand how photoperiod and TH control the ovine reproductive status through effects on hypothalamic function. Almost 3000 genes showed altered hypothalamic expression between the breeding- and non-breeding seasons, showing gene ontology enrichment for cell signaling, epigenetics and neural plasticity. In contrast, acute switching from a short (SP) to a long photoperiod (LP) affected the expression of a much smaller core of 134 LP-responsive genes, including a canonical group previously linked to photoperiodic synchronization. Reproductive switch-off at the end of the winter breeding season was completely blocked by thyroidectomy (THX), despite a very modest effect on the hypothalamic transcriptome. Only 49 genes displayed altered expression between intact and THX ewes, including less than 10% of the LP-induced gene set. Neuroanatomical mapping showed that many LP-induced genes were expressed in the PT, independently of the TH status. In contrast, TH-sensitive seasonal genes were principally expressed in the ependymal zone. These data highlight the distinctions between seasonal remodeling effects, which appear to be largely independent of TH, and TH-dependent localised effects which are permissive for transition to the non-breeding state.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00018-017-2667-x
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