Light-induced hormone conversion of T4 to T3 regulates photoperiodic response of gonads in birds

Nature. 2003 Nov 13;426(6963):178-81. doi: 10.1038/nature02117.


Reproduction of many temperate zone birds is under photoperiodic control. The Japanese quail is an excellent model for studying the mechanism of photoperiodic time measurement because of its distinct and marked response to changing photoperiods. Studies on this animal have suggested that the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) is an important centre controlling photoperiodic time measurement. Here we report that expression in the MBH of the gene encoding type 2 iodothyronine deiodinase (Dio2), which catalyses the intracellular deiodination of thyroxine (T4) prohormone to the active 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T3), is induced by light in Japanese quail. Intracerebroventricular administration of T3 mimics the photoperiodic response, whereas the Dio2 inhibitor iopanoic acid prevents gonadal growth. These findings demonstrate that light-induced Dio2 expression in the MBH may be involved in the photoperiodic response of gonads in Japanese quail.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coturnix / genetics
  • Coturnix / physiology*
  • Enzyme Induction / radiation effects
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Hypothalamus / enzymology
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / radiation effects
  • Iodide Peroxidase / genetics
  • Iodide Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Light*
  • Male
  • Photoperiod*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Testis / growth & development
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Testis / radiation effects*
  • Thyroxine / metabolism*
  • Triiodothyronine / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Iodide Peroxidase
  • Thyroxine