Thyroid hormone receptors mediate two distinct mechanisms of long-wavelength vision

Leo I. Volkov, Jeong Sook Kim-Han, Lauren M. Saunders, Deepak Poria, Andrew E.O. Hughes, Vladimir J. Kefalov, David M. Parichy, Joseph C. Corbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Thyroid hormone (TH) signaling plays an important role in the regulation of long-wavelength vision in vertebrates. In the retina, thyroid hormone receptor (thrb) is required for expression of long-wavelength-sensitive opsin (lws) in red cone photoreceptors, while in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), TH regulates expression of a cytochrome P450 enzyme, cyp27c1, that converts vitamin A1 into vitamin A2 to produce a red-shifted chromophore. To better understand how TH controls these processes, we analyzed the phenotype of zebrafish with mutations in the three known TH nuclear receptor transcription factors (thraa, thrab, and thrb). We found that no single TH nuclear receptor is required for THmediated induction of cyp27c1 but that deletion of all three (thraa/;thrab/;thrb) completely abrogates its induction and the resulting conversion of A1-to A2-based retinoids. In the retina, loss of thrb resulted in an absence of red cones at both larval and adult stages without disruption of the underlying cone mosaic. RNA-sequencing analysis revealed significant downregulation of only five genes in adult thrb/ retina, of which three (lws1, lws2, and miR-726) occur in a single syntenic cluster. In the thrb/ retina, retinal progenitors destined to become red cones were transfated into ultraviolet (UV) cones and horizontal cells. Taken together, our findings demonstrate cooperative regulation of cyp27c1 by TH receptors and a requirement for thrb in red cone fate determination. Thus, TH signaling coordinately regulates both spectral sensitivity and sensory plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15262-15269
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 30 2020


  • Cone Photoreceptors
  • Retinal Development
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Vitamin A2
  • Zebrafish


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