Thyroid peroxidase: The TPO gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase.
The TPO gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase. This enzyme plays a central role in the function of the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped tissue in the lower neck. Thyroid peroxidase assists the chemical reaction that adds iodine to a protein called thyroglobulin, a critical step in generating thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play an important role in regulating growth, brain development, and the rate of chemical reactions in the body (metabolism).
To function properly, thyroid peroxidase must be located in the cell membrane of certain thyroid cells, called follicular cells. Thyroid peroxidase has several different versions (isoforms), which vary by size and location within the cell. Some versions do not function because they are not located in the cell membrane.
TPO gene mutations can cause congenital hypothyroidism, a condition characterized by abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones starting from birth. The TPO gene mutations involved in this condition delete, add, or change DNA building blocks (base pairs) in the TPO gene. Some mutations lead to an abnormally small thyroid peroxidase enzyme that breaks apart before it can be inserted into the cell membrane. Other mutations change the enzyme's 3-dimensional shape, preventing it from functioning properly within the cell membrane. Without functional thyroid peroxidase, iodine taken up by the thyroid gland is not added to thyroglobulin. As a result, the production of thyroid hormones is absent or reduced, leading to the features of congenital hypothyroidism. In most affected individuals, the thyroid gland is enlarged (goiter) in an attempt to compensate for reduced hormone production. Because cases caused by TPO gene mutations result from a disruption of thyroid hormone synthesis, they are classified as thyroid dyshormonogenesis.