Résumé : TSH, mainly acting through cAMP, is the principal physiological regulator of thyroid gland function, differentiation expression, and cell proliferation. Both cAMP-dependent protein kinases [protein kinase A (PKA)] and the guanine-nucleotide-exchange factors for Rap proteins, exchange proteins directly activated by cAMP (Epac) 1 and Epac2, are known to mediate a broad range of effects of cAMP in various cell systems. In the present study, we found a high expression of Epac1 in dog thyrocytes, which was further increased in response to TSH stimulation. Epac1 was localized in the perinuclear region. Epac2 showed little or no expression. The TSH-induced activation of Rap1 was presumably mediated by Epac1 because it was mimicked by the Epac-selective cAMP analog (8-p-chloro-phenyl-thio-2'-O-methyl-cAMP) and not by PKA-selective cAMP analogs. Surprisingly, in view of the high Epac1 expression and its TSH responsiveness, all the cAMP-dependent functions of TSH in cultures or tissue incubations of dog thyroid, including acute stimulation of thyroid hormone secretion, H(2)O(2) generation, actin cytoskeleton reorganization, p70(S6K1) activity, delayed stimulation of differentiation expression, and mitogenesis, were induced only by PKA-selective cAMP analogs. The Epac activator 8-p-chloro-phenyl-thio-2'-O-methyl-cAMP, used alone or combined with PKA-selective cAMP analogs, had no measurable effect on any of these TSH targets. Therefore, PKA activation seems to mediate all the recognized cAMP-dependent effects of TSH and is thus presumably responsible for the pathological consequences of its deregulation. The role of Epac1 and TSH-stimulated Rap1 activation in thyrocytes is still elusive.