Iodine imparts protective antioxidant actions that improve the fitness of invertebrate organisms, and peptides carrying iodine initially appear to have served in a defensive capacity. Tyrosine carries multiple iodines in some echinoderms, and these peptides transferred to progeny serve both protective and signaling purposes. This parental relationship appears to be the most likely evolutionary basis for emergence of the vertebrate thyroid endocrine system, and its critically important development-promoting actions in larval and (later) fetal ontogeny. Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) induce settlement and stimulate transitions to alternative feeding modes in some echinoderms. This transgenerational relationship has been conserved and elaborated in vertebrates, including humans, which share common ancestry with echinoderms. Thyroid insufficiency is damaging or can be lethal to larval fishes; egg yolk that is insufficiently primed with maternal thyroid hormones (TH) results in compromised development and high mortality rates at the time of first-feeding. Maternally-derived TH supplied to offspring supports the onset of independent feeding in fishes (eye, mouth, lateral line, swim bladder and intestinal maturation) and survival by comparable developmental mechanisms in placental mammals. Fishes evolved precise control of TH secretion and peripheral processing; early metamorphic and feeding mode actions were joined by controlled thermogenesis in homeotherms.
Part of the book: Hypothyroidism