Expression of the sodium iodide symporter (NIS) in reproductive and neural tissues of teleost fish. Academic Article uri icon


  • Iodine, an essential component of thyroid hormones, can only be obtained through the diet. The sodium iodide symporter (NIS) transports iodide across mammalian intestinal and thyroid epithelia to deliver iodide for thyroid hormone production. Using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) we confirmed that mRNA for a homolog of mammalian NIS is expressed in comparable locations, both sub-pharyngeal thyroid tissue and intestine, in multiple teleost fish species, supporting a conserved mechanism for intestinal-thyroid iodine transport across vertebrates. To determine when in embryogenesis NIS expression is initiated we utilized in situ hybridization (ISH) during development of zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos. This revealed expression of nis as early as 2days post fertilization (dpf) along the dorsal surface of the yolk sac, suggesting a function to import iodine from yolk. To evaluate the potential for maternal deposition of iodine in yolk, RT-PCR and further in situ staining of ovarian tissue in gravid female zebrafish confirmed NIS mRNA presence in the ooplasm and granulosa layer of early stage follicles. This further suggests that maternally-deposited NIS mRNA may be available for early embryogenesis. Unexpectedly, ISH in embryos revealed robust nis expression in the central nervous system throughout days 2-5days post fertilization, with adult whole brain ISH localizing expression in the hypothalamus, cerebellum, and optic tectum. RT-PCR on whole brain tissue from five species of adult fish representing three taxonomic orders likewise revealed robust CNS expression. These unexpected locations of nis expression suggest novel, as yet undescribed reproductive and neural functions of NIS in teleost species.

published proceedings

  • Gen Comp Endocrinol

author list (cited authors)

  • Holloway, N., Riley, B., & MacKenzie, D. S.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Holloway, Nicholas||Riley, Bruce||MacKenzie, Duncan S

publication date

  • January 2021