Light-induced hormone conversion of T4 to T3 regulates photoperiodic response of gonads in birds


Reproduction of many temperate zone birds is under photoperiodic control. The Japanese quail is an excellent model for studying the mechanism of photoperiodic time measurement because of its distinct and marked response to changing photoperiods. Studies on this animal have suggested that the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) is an important centre controlling photoperiodic time measurement1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. Here we report that expression in the MBH of the gene encoding type 2 iodothyronine deiodinase (Dio2), which catalyses the intracellular deiodination of thyroxine (T4) prohormone to the active 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine (T3), is induced by light in Japanese quail. Intracerebroventricular administration of T3 mimics the photoperiodic response, whereas the Dio2 inhibitor iopanoic acid prevents gonadal growth. These findings demonstrate that light-induced Dio2 expression in the MBH may be involved in the photoperiodic response of gonads in Japanese quail.

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Figure 1: Identification of a gene that controls photoperiodic time measurement.
Figure 2: Locally generated T3 acts on the BTH.
Figure 3: Intracerebroventricular T3 infusion mimics photoperiodically induced testicular growth.


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We thank Nagoya University Radioisotope Center for use of its facilities. We also thank K. Aida, M. Tagawa and A. Munakata for providing antiserum, and A. Nishimura for technical assistance. This work was supported by the Program for Promotion of Basic Research Activities for Innovative Biosciences (PROBRAIN), a Grant-in-Aid for Encouragement of Young Scientists (to T.Yo.), and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (to S.E.) from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture.

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Correspondence to Takashi Yoshimura.

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Yoshimura, T., Yasuo, S., Watanabe, M. et al. Light-induced hormone conversion of T4 to T3 regulates photoperiodic response of gonads in birds. Nature 426, 178–181 (2003).

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