Résumé : Using in situ hybridization procedure, we have investigated the regulation and the cellular localization of thyroperoxidase (TPO) messenger RNA accumulation as a marker of differentiation in dog thyroid epithelial cells in primary culture. The response to different mitogens (TSH acting through cAMP, EGF and TPA) has been compared. TPO mRNA accumulation was exquisitely dependent on a continuous TSH/cAMP stimulation. It was induced within 1 h in the whole cell population from a very low basal level. This effect was inhibited by the cAMP-independent mitogens EGF and TPA. By contrast, the TSH-induction of TPO mRNA accumulation was observed irrespectively of the proliferative activity of the cells, i.e. in the presence or the absence of insulin, which is required for mitogenesis. The short half-life of TPO mRNA (+/- 2 h) implies that it was continuously transcribed during TSH/cAMP-dependent cell cycling. As compared to another thyroid differentiation marker, thyroglobulin mRNA (Pohl et al., J. Cell Biol. 111, 663-672 (1990)), TPO mRNA accumulation differed by the rapidity of its control by cAMP, the pattern of its intercellular heterogeneity, and the unexpected segregation to a perinuclear region, probably the nuclear envelope that constitutes a specialized part of the endoplasmic reticulum. Despite these differences, both TPO and thyroglobulin gene transcriptions are unequivocally compatible with the cell cycle when induced by cAMP, at variance with the generally observed antagonism between growth and differentiation expression.