TSH/IGF-1 Receptor Cross-Talk Rapidly Activates Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinases in Multiple Cell Types

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Abstract

We previously showed that thyrotropin (TSH)/insulinlike growth factor (IGF)-1 receptor cross-talk appears to be involved in Graves' orbitopathy (GO) pathogenesis and upregulation of thyroid-specific genes in human thyrocytes. In orbital fibroblasts from GO patients, coadministration of TSH and IGF-1 induces synergistic increases in hyaluronan secretion. In human thyrocytes, TSH plus IGF-1 synergistically increased expression of the sodium-iodide symporter that appeared to involve ERK1/2 activation. However, the details of ERK1/2 activation were not known, nor was whether ERK1/2 was involved in this synergism in other cell types. Using primary cultures of GO fibroblasts (GOFs) and human thyrocytes, as well as human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells overexpressing TSH receptors (HEK-TSHRs), we show that simultaneous activation of TSHRs and IGF-1 receptors (IGF-1Rs) causes rapid, synergistic phosphorylation/activation of ERK1 and ERK2 in all three cell types. This effect is partially inhibited by pertussis toxin, an inhibitor of TSHR coupling to Gi/Go proteins. In support of a role for Gi/Go proteins in ERK1/2 phosphorylation, we found that knockdown of Gi(1-3) and Go in HEK-TSHRs inhibited ERK1/2 phosphorylation stimulated by TSH and TSH plus IGF-1. These data demonstrate that the synergistic effects of TSH plus IGF-1 occur early in the TSHR signaling cascade and further support the idea that TSHR/IGF-1R cross-talk is an important mechanism for regulation of human GOFs and thyrocytes.

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