Article révisé par les pairs
|Background: Thyroid hormones are involved in developmental and homeostatic processes in several tissues. Their action results in different outcomes depending on the developmental stage, tissue and/or cellular context. Interestingly, their pleiotropic roles are conserved across vertebrates. It is largely documented that thyroid hormones act via nuclear receptors, the TRs, which are transcription factors and whose activity can be modulated by the local availability of the hormone T3. In the "classical view", the T3-induced physiological response depends on the expression of specific TR isoforms and the iodothyronine deiodinase selenoenzymes that control the local level of T3, thus TR activity. Scope of the Review: Recent data have clearly established that the functionality of TRs is coordinated and integrated with other signaling pathways, specifically at the level of stem/progenitor cell populations. Here, we summarize these data and propose a new and intriguing role for thyroid hormones in two selected examples. Major Conclusions: In the intestinal epithelium and the retina, TRα1 and TRβ2 are expressed at the level of the precursors where they induce cell proliferation and differentiation, respectively. Moreover, these different functions result from the integration of the hormone signal with other intrinsic pathways, which play a fundamental role in progenitor/stem cell physiology. General Significance: Taken together, the interaction of TRs with other signaling pathways, specifically in stem/progenitor cells, is a new concept that may have biological relevance in therapeutic approaches aimed to target stem cells such as tissue engineering and cancer. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Thyroid hormone signalling. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.