Transmembrane proteins that mediate the cellular uptake or efflux of thyroid hormone potentially provide a key level of control over neurodevelopment. In humans, defects in one such protein, solute carrier SLC16A2 (MCT8) are associated with psychomotor retardation. Other proteins that transport the active form of thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3) or its precursor thyroxine (T4) have been identified in vitro but the wider significance of such transporters in vivo is unclear. The development of the auditory system requires thyroid hormone and the cochlea is a primary target tissue. We have proposed that the compartmental anatomy of the cochlea would necessitate transport mechanisms to convey blood-borne hormone to target tissues. We report hearing loss in mice with mutations in Slc16a2 and a related gene Slc16a10 (Mct10, Tat1). Deficiency of both transporters results in retarded development of the sensory epithelium similar to impairment caused by hypothyroidism, compounded with a progressive degeneration of cochlear hair cells and loss of endocochlear potential. Administration of T3 largely restores the development of the sensory epithelium and limited auditory function, indicating the T3-sensitivity of defects in the sensory epithelium. The results indicate a necessity for thyroid hormone transporters in cochlear development and function.

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Journal Scientific Reports
Sharlin, D.S, Ng, L, Verrey, F, Visser, T.J, Liu, Y. (Ye), Olszewski, R.T. (Rafal T.), … Forrest, D. (Douglas). (2018). Deafness and loss of cochlear hair cells in the absence of thyroid hormone transporters Slc16a2 (Mct8) and Slc16a10 (Mct10). Scientific Reports, 8(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-018-22553-w