Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) modulate various physiological functions in many organ systems. The TRα and TRβ isoforms are products of 2 distinct genes, and the β1 and β2 isoforms are splice variants of the same gene. Whereas TRα1 and TRβ1 are widely expressed, expression of the TRβ2 isoform is mainly limited to the pituitary, triiodothyronine-responsive TRH neurons, the developing inner ear, and the retina. Mice with targeted disruption of the entire TRβ locus (TRβ-null) exhibit elevated thyroid hormone levels as a result of abnormal central regulation of thyrotropin, and also develop profound hearing loss. To clarify the contribution of the TRβ2 isoform to the function of the endocrine and auditory systems in vivo, we have generated mice with targeted disruption of the TRβ2 isoform. TRβ2-null mice have preserved expression of the TRα and TRβ1 isoforms. They develop a similar degree of central resistance to thyroid hormone as TRβ-null mice, indicating the important role of TRβ2 in the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary- thyroid axis. Growth hormone gene expression is marginally reduced. In contrast, TRβ2-null mice exhibit no evidence of hearing impairment, indicating that TRβ1 and TRβ2 subserve divergent roles in the regulation of auditory function.
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