Résumé : Despite the similarity of their receptors and signal transduction pathways, insulin is regarded as a regulator of glucose, protein, and lipid metabolism, whereas insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and IGF-II) mainly act as mitogenic hormones. In the dog thyroid primary culture model, the triggering of DNA synthesis by thyrotropin (TSH) through cAMP, or by cAMP-independent factors including epidermal growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor and phorbol esters, requires insulin or IGFs as comitogenic factors. In the present study, in TSH-treated cells, IGF-I receptors and insulin receptors were paradoxically equivalent in their capacity to elicit the comitogenic pathway, which, however, was mediated only by IGF-I receptors in dog thyroid cells stimulated by cAMP-independent mitogens. Moreover, prior cell exposure to TSH or forskolin increased their responsiveness to insulin, IGF-I, and IGF-II, as seen on DNA synthesis and activation of a common insulin/IGF signaling pathway. To understand these observations, binding characteristics and expression of insulin and IGF-I receptors were examined. To analyze IGF-I receptor characteristics, the unexpected interference of a huge presence of IGF-binding proteins at the cell membrane was avoided using labeled Long R3 IGF-I instead of IGF-I. Strikingly, TSH, through cAMP, time-dependently induced insulin binding and insulin receptor mRNA and protein accumulation without any effect on IGF-I receptors. These findings constitute a first example of an induction of insulin receptor gene expression by a cAMP-mediated hormone. In dog thyroid cells, this allows low physiological insulin concentrations to act as a comitogenic factor and might explain in part the enhanced responsiveness to IGFs in response to TSH. This raises the possibility that TSH-insulin interactions may play a role in the regulation of thyroid growth and function in vivo.