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J Biol Chem. 1990 Jan 5;265(1):312-7.

Role of disulfide bond formation in the folding of human chorionic gonadotropin beta subunit into an alpha beta dimer assembly-competent form.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109-0626.


The malignant trophoblastic cell line JAR was used as a model system to study protein folding in intact cells. We have used this model previously to identify conformational intermediates in the production of an assembly-competent form of the human chorionic gonadotropin beta subunit (Ruddon, R. W., Krzesicki, R. F., Norton, S. E., Beebe, J. S., Peters, B. P., and Perini, F. (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 12533-12540). The earliest biosynthetic precursor of the human chorionic gonadotropin beta subunit detectable in JAR cells pulse labeled for 2 min is p beta 1, a form that lacks half of the six intrachain disulfide bonds observed in the fully processed dimer form of beta and that does not combine with the alpha subunit. p beta 1 is rapidly (t1/2 approximately 4 min) converted into p beta 2, which has a full complement of intrachain disulfide bonds and does combine with the alpha subunit. In this study, we have identified the three late forming disulfide bonds involved in the transition of p beta 1 into the assembly-compete form, p beta 2. The last three disulfide bonds to form are those between cysteines 9 and 90, 23 and 72, and 93 and 100. These were identified in JAR cell lysates that had been pulse labeled with [35S]cysteine for 2 or 5 min followed by trapping of the cysteine thiols with iodoacetic acid before immunopurification of the beta subunit forms. Immunopurified p beta 1 was treated with trypsin under nonreducing conditions to liberate [35S]cysteine-containing peptides from the disulfide-linked beta core polypeptide. These tryptic peptides were then separated by high performance liquid chromatography and sequenced to determine the location of the carboxymethyl-[35S]cysteine residues. The three late forming disulfide bonds are most likely the ones involved in stabilizing the conformation of the beta subunit that is required for combination with alpha to form the biologically functional alpha beta heterodimer.

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