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The role of thyroid hormone in zebrafish and axolotl development

  • Donald D. Brown
The National Academy of Sciences of the USA
Publication Date
Nov 25, 1997
  • Chemistry


Exogenous thyroid hormone (TH) induces premature differentiation of the zebrafish pectoral fins, which are analogous to the forelimbs of tetrapods. It accelerates the growth of the pelvic fins but not precociously. Goitrogens, which are chemical inhibitors of TH synthesis by the thyroid gland, inhibit the transition from larva to juvenile fish including the formation of scales, and pigment pattern; they stunt the growth of both pectoral and pelvic paired fins. Inhibition by goitrogens is rescued by the simultaneous addition of thyroxine. The effect of adding TH to the rearing water of the postembryonic Mexican axolotl was reinvestigated under conditions that permit continued growth and development. In addition to morphological changes that have been described, TH greatly stimulates axolotl limb growth causing the resulting larva to be proportioned as an adult in about two months. This study extends the known evolutionary relatedness of tetrapod limbs and fish fins to include the TH stimulation of salamander limb and zebrafish fin growth, and suggests that TH is required to complete the life cycle of a typical bony fish and a salamander at the same developmental stage that it controls anuran and flounder metamorphosis.

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