The possibility that several pathways are involved in the multiplicity of thyroid hormone physiological influences led to searches for the occurrence of T3 extra nuclear receptors. The existence of a direct T3 mitochondrial pathway is now well established. The demonstration that TRα1 mRNA encodes not only a nuclear thyroid hormone receptor but also two proteins imported into mitochondria with molecular masses of 43 and 28 kDa has provided new clues to understand the pleiotropic influence of iodinated hormones.The use of a T3 photo affinity label derivative (T3-PAL) allowed detecting two mitochondrial T3 binding proteins. In association with western blots using antibodies raised against the T3 nuclear receptor TRα1, mitochondrial T3 receptors were identified as truncated TRα1 forms. Import and in organello transcription experiments performed in isolated mitochondria led to the conclusion that p43 is a transcription factor of the mitochondrial genome, inducing changes in the mitochondrial/nuclear crosstalk. In vitro experiments indicated that this T3 mitochondrial pathway affects cell differentiation, apoptosis, and transformation. Generation of transgenic mice demonstrated the involvement of this mitochondrial pathway in the determination of muscle phenotype, glucose metabolism, and thermogenesis.
Keywords: Animal models; In organello mitochondrial transcription assay; Mitochondrial T3 receptor; Mitochondrial/nuclear crosstalk; T3 photo affinity label derivative; p43 Mitochondrial import.