Functional Study of a Novel Single Deletion in the TITF1/NKX2.1 Homeobox Gene That Produces Congenital Hypothyroidism and Benign Chorea But Not Pulmonary Distress

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We studied two sisters with congenital hypothyroidism and choreoathetosis but not respiratory distress.


The aim of this study was to establish the genetic defect that causes this phenotype and study the molecular mechanisms of the pathology by means of functional analysis.


Sequencing of DNA, expression vectors generation, EMSAs, transfections experiments as well as bioinformatics analysis were performed.


We found a new single deletion (825delC) in one allele of the TITF1/NKX2.1 gene. The mutation located in the C-terminal domain generates a nonsense thyroid transcription factor 1 (TTF1) protein, with 22 amino less and rich in positive charges. This protein shows diminished binding to DNA, does not interfere with wild-type (wt) TTF1 binding, and fails to activate reporter genes harboring the thyroglobulin (Tg), thyroperoxidase (TPO), or surfactant protein B (SP-B) promoters. In addition, the mutant (mut) protein has a dominant-negative effect on the transcriptional activity of wt TTF1 in a promoter-specific manner, inhibiting the transcription of Tg and TPO but not of SP-B. Using a Gal4 reporter system, we demonstrate that the mut protein is not transcriptionally active and does not likely compete with the wild type for coactivators. Interestingly, the mut protein impairs the wt capacity to synergize with paired box 8 (PAX8). This cooperation is necessary for Tg and TPO transcription but dispensable for SP-B expression.


These results are concordant with the phenotype of the two sisters studied and demonstrate a differential role for TTF1 in the different tissues in which it is expressed.

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