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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Specificity of cognate ligand-receptor interactions: fusion proteins of human chorionic gonadotropin and the heptahelical receptors for human luteinizing hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone.

The family of glycoprotein hormones and their homologous heptahelical receptors represent an excellent system for comparative structure-function studies. We have engineered single chain molecules of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) fused to its cognate receptor, LH receptor (LHR), and to the noncognate receptors, TSH receptor (TSHR) and FSH receptor (FSHR; N-beta-alpha-receptor-C), to create the yoked (Y) complexes YCG/LHR, YCG/TSHR, and YCG/FSHR. The expression and bioactivity of these fusion proteins were examined in transiently transfected HEK 293 cells. Western blot analysis and antibody binding assays demonstrated that each of the proteins was expressed. In the case of YCG/LHR, minimal binding of exogenous hormone was observed due to the continued occupation of receptor by the fused ligand. The presence of hCG in the YCG/TSHR and YCG/FSHR, however, did not prevent binding of exogenous cognate ligand, presumably due to the lower affinity of hCG. The basal cAMP levels in cells expressing the YCG/LHR complex was approximately 20-fold higher than that in cells expressing LHR. Increases in basal cAMP production were also observed with YCG/TSHR and YCG/FSHR, e.g. 13- and 4-fold increases, respectively. Whereas the affinity and specificity of hCG for LHR are extraordinarily high, the hormone is capable of binding to and activating both TSHR and FSHR under these conditions that mimic high ligand concentrations. These findings were confirmed by adding high concentrations of hCG to cells expressing TSHR and FSHR. Although the functional interaction of hCG and TSHR has been recognized in gestational hyperthyroidism, there are no reports linking hCG to FSHR activation. This study, however, suggests that such a functional interaction is capable of occurring under conditions of high circulating levels of hCG, e.g. the first trimester of pregnancy and in patients with hCG-secreting tumors.[1]


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