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Function of Cathepsin K in the Central Nervous System of Male Mice is Independent of its Role in the Thyroid Gland

: Dauth, S.; Rakov, H.; Sîrbulescu, R.F.; Ilieş, I.; Weber, J.; Batbajar Dugershaw, B.; Braun, D.; Rehders, M.; Wirth, E.K.; Führer, D.; Schweizer, U.; Brix, K.


Cellular and molecular neurobiology 40 (2020), Nr.5, S.695-710
ISSN: 0272-4340
ISSN: 1573-6830
Fraunhofer IME ()

Cathepsin K deficiency in male mice (Ctsk−/−) results in decreased numbers of hippocampal astrocytes and altered neuronal patterning as well as learning and memory deficits. Additionally, cathepsin K carries essential roles in the thyroid gland where it contributes to the liberation of thyroid hormones (TH). Because TH are essential for brain development, in particular for the cerebellum, we investigated whether cathepsin K’s function in the thyroid is directly linked to the brain phenotype of Ctsk−/− mice. Serum levels of thyroid stimulating hormone, brain concentrations of free TH, and deiodinase 2 (Dio2) activity in brain parenchyma as well as cerebellar development were comparable in Ctsk−/− and WT animals, suggesting regular thyroid states and TH metabolism. Despite unaltered transcript levels, protein expression of two TH transporters was enhanced in specific brain regions in Ctsk−/− mice, suggesting altered TH supply to these regions. Thyrotropin releasing hormone (Trh) mRNA levels were enhanced threefold in the hippocampus of Ctsk−/− mice. In the striatum of Ctsk−/− mice the mRNA for Dio2 and hairless were approximately 1.3-fold enhanced, while mRNA levels for monocarboxylate transporter 8 and Trh were reduced to 60% and 40%, respectively, pointing to altered striatal physiology. We conclude that the role of cathepsin K in the thyroid gland is not directly associated with its function in the central nervous system (CNS) of mice. Future studies will show whether the brain region-specific alterations in Trh mRNA may eventually result in altered neuroprotection that could explain the neurobehavioral defects of Ctsk−/− mice.