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Biol Reprod. 2008 Nov;79(5):938-46. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.108.070052. Epub 2008 Aug 6.

Japanese eel follicle-stimulating hormone (Fsh) and luteinizing hormone (Lh): production of biologically active recombinant Fsh and Lh by Drosophila S2 cells and their differential actions on the reproductive biology.

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National Research Institute of Aquaculture, Fisheries Research Agency, Minami-ise 516-0193, Japan.


Two gonadotropins (Gths), follicle-stimulating hormone (Fsh) and luteinizing hormone (Lh), control gonadal steroidogenesis and gametogenesis in vertebrates, including teleost fish. Here, we report on the production of biologically active recombinant Fsh (rec-Fsh) and Lh (rec-Lh) in Japanese eel using Drosophila S2 cells. The three subunits composing Gths, i.e., glycoprotein hormone, alpha polypeptide (Cga), follicle-stimulating hormone, beta polypeptide (Fshb), and luteinizing hormone, beta polypeptide (Lhb), were at first independently produced and were proven to be glycosylated and secreted as the mature peptides. Each beta subunit, along with its Cga, was simultaneously coexpressed to produce heterodimeric rec-Fsh and rec-Lh that were subsequently highly purified. The biological activity of rec-Gths was demonstrated in various in vitro assays. The rec-Gths differentially activated their receptors, which resulted in an increase in 11-ketotestosterone (11KT) secretion, a differential alteration of gene expression of steroidogenic enzymes in immature testis, and the induction of the complete process of spermatogenesis in vitro. The data strongly suggest that Fsh and Lh differentially play important roles in the reproductive physiology of the Japanese eel. By contrast, these rec-Gths exhibited little activity in the gonad when administered in vivo. This difference between in vitro and in vivo bioactivity is probably due to the qualitative nature of glycosylation in S2 cells, which resulted in degradation of the recombinant protein in vivo. These differences in the carbohydrate moieties need to be elucidated and ameliorated.

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