When cultured in collagen gel-coated dishes, thyroid cells organized into polarized monolayers. The basal poles of the cells were in contact with the collagen gel, whereas the apical surfaces were facing the culture medium. Under these culture conditions, thyroid cells do not concentrate iodide nor respond to acute stimulation by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). To allow the free access of medium components to the basal poles, the gel was detached from the plastic dish and allowed to float in the culture medium. After release of the gel, the iodide concentration and acute response to TSH stimulation were restored. Increased cAMP levels, iodide efflux, and formation of apical pseudopods were observed. When the thyroid cells are cultured on collagen-coated Millipore filters glued to glass rings, the cell layer separates the medium in contact with the apical domain of the plasma membrane (inside the ring) from that bathing the basolateral domain (outside the ring). Iodide present in the basal medium was concentrated in the cells, whereas no transport was observed when iodide was added to the luminal side. Similarly, an acute effect of TSH was observed only when the hormone was added to the basal medium. These results show that the iodide concentration mechanism and the TSH receptor-adenylate cyclase complex are present only on the basolateral domain of thyroid cell plasma membranes.

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