Two cDNAs encoding NADPH oxidases and constituting the thyroid H(2)O(2) generating system have been cloned. The strategy of cloning was based on the functional similarities between H(2)O(2) generation in leukocytes and the thyroid, according to the hypothesis that one of the components of the thyroid system would belong to the gp91(Phox)/Mox1 gene family and display sequence similarities with gp91(Phox). Screening at low stringency with a gp91(Phox) probe of cDNA libraries from thyroid cells in primary culture yielded two distinct human cDNA clones harboring open reading frames of 1551 (ThOX1) and 1548 amino acids (ThOX2), respectively. The encoded polypeptides display 83% sequence similarity and are clearly related to gp91(Phox) (53 and 47% similarity). The theoretical molecular mass of 177 kDa is close to the apparent molecular mass of 180 kDa of the native corresponding porcine flavoprotein and the protein(s) detected by Western blot in dog and human thyroid. ThOX1 and ThOX2 display sequence similarities of 53% and 61%, respectively, with a predicted protein of Caenorhabditis elegans over their entire length. They show along their first 500 amino acids a similarity of 43% with thyroperoxidase. The corresponding genes of ThOX1 and ThOX2 are closely linked on chromosome 15q15.3. The dog mRNA expression is thyroid-specific and up-regulated by agents activating the cAMP pathway as is the synthesis of the polypeptides they are coding for. In human thyroid the positive regulation by cAMP is less pronounced. The proteins ThOX1 and ThOX2 accumulate at the apical membrane of thyrocytes and are co-localized with thyroperoxidase.