Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and insulin-like growth factors type 1 (IGF-I) regulate the proliferation and differentiation of cultured thyroid cells but not of cultured liver cells. We have examined the influence of TSH and IGF-I on the metabolic functions and proliferation of somatic hybrids obtained by fusing rat thyroid cells (FRTL5) with rat liver cells (BRL). While IGF-I is able to stimulate the proliferation of the hybrid cells (TxL) TSH fails to induce their growth. However, the hybrid TxL cells have surface TSH receptors with normal ligand characteristics. The addition of TSH to TxL cells led to typical enhancement of cAMP production and depolymerization of actin filaments. Yet, TSH failed to stimulate iodine uptake in the hybrid cells. Interestingly, iodine inhibited TxL proliferation induced by IGF-I but not by serum. It is concluded that the hybrid TxL cells inherited from the parental thyroid cells several important differentiated traits including mitogenic pathways induced and used by IGF-I, functional TSH receptors, and sensitivity to the inhibitory action of iodine.

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