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Endocrinology. 2015 Feb;156(2):488-98. doi: 10.1210/en.2014-1509. Epub 2014 Nov 19.

Transmembrane domains of attraction on the TSH receptor.

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Thyroid Research Unit (R.L., M.R.A., T.F.D.) and Departments of Medicine (R.L., M.R.A., T.F.D.) and Structural and Chemical Biology (M.M.), Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029; and James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center (R.L., M.R.A., T.F.D.), New York, New York 10468.


The TSH receptor (TSHR) has the propensity to form dimers and oligomers. Our data using ectodomain-truncated TSHRs indicated that the predominant interfaces for oligomerization reside in the transmembrane (TM) domain. To map the potentially interacting residues, we first performed in silico studies of the TSHR transmembrane domain using a homology model and using Brownian dynamics (BD). The cluster of dimer conformations obtained from BD analysis indicated that TM1 made contact with TM4 and two residues in TM2 made contact with TM5. To confirm the proximity of these contact residues, we then generated cysteine mutants at all six contact residues predicted by the BD analysis and performed cysteine cross-linking studies. These results showed that the predicted helices in the protomer were indeed involved in proximity interactions. Furthermore, an alternative experimental approach, receptor truncation experiments and LH receptor sequence substitution experiments, identified TM1 harboring a major region involved in TSHR oligomerization, in agreement with the conclusion from the cross-linking studies. Point mutations of the predicted interacting residues did not yield a substantial decrease in oligomerization, unlike the truncation of the TM1, so we concluded that constitutive oligomerization must involve interfaces forming domains of attraction in a cooperative manner that is not dominated by interactions between specific residues.

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