Thyroid hormone (TH) is present in the systemic circulation and thus should affect all cells similarly in the body. However, tissues have a complex machinery that allows tissue-specific optimization of local TH action that calls for the assessment of TH action in a tissue-specific manner. Here, we report the creation of a TH action indicator (THAI) mouse model to study tissue-specific TH action. The model uses a firefly luciferase reporter readout in the context of an intact transcriptional apparatus and all elements of TH metabolism and transport and signaling. The THAI mouse allows the assessment of the changes of TH signaling in tissue samples or in live animals using bioluminescence, both in hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Beyond pharmacologically manipulated TH levels, the THAI mouse is sufficiently sensitive to detect deiodinase-mediated changes of TH action in the interscapular brown adipose tissue (BAT) that preserves thermal homeostasis during cold stress. The model revealed that in contrast to the cold-induced changes of TH action in the BAT, the TH action in this tissue, at room temperature, is independent of noradrenergic signaling. Our data demonstrate that the THAI mouse can also be used to test TH receptor isoform-specific TH action. Thus, THAI mouse constitutes a unique model to study tissue-specific TH action within a physiological/pathophysiological context and test the performance of thyromimetics. In conclusion, THAI mouse provides an in vivo model to assess a high degree of tissue specificity of TH signaling, allowing alteration of tissue function in health and disease, independently of changes in circulating levels of TH.
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