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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987 Apr;84(7):2038-42.

A receptor-binding region in human choriogonadotropin/lutropin beta subunit.


Synthetic fragments have not been widely used thus far to evaluate structure-activity relations in the glycoprotein hormones. We prepared a series of peptides representing the intercysteine "loop" sequence (residues 38-57) in human choriogonadotropin (hCG) and lutropin (hLH) beta subunits, anticipating that it might be oriented toward the surface and accessible to receptors. The peptides were characterized chemically and tested for bioactivity by binding to rat ovarian membrane receptor and stimulation of Leydig cell testosterone production. The hCG beta-(38-57) and hLH beta-(38-57) peptides inhibited binding of 125I-labeled hCG half-maximally at 1.51 X 10(-4) and 2.03 X 10(-5) M, respectively, while other peptide hormones and fragments from elsewhere in the beta subunit were inactive. Both peptides stimulated testosterone production, with half-maximal responses at 3.55 X 10(-5) M (hCG) and 2.18 X 10(-5) M (hLH). By radioimmunoassay with an antibody to thyroglobulin-conjugated hCG beta-(38-57) peptide, native hCG and beta subunit were highly reactive, as were the reduced and carboxymethylated subunit and peptide. Helical-wheel projection predicted an amphipathic region in the N-terminal portion of the 38-57 sequence, and circular dichroic measurements showed an increase in ordered structure, especially alpha-helix, when the 38-57 peptides were transferred from an aqueous to a more lipophilic (90% trifluoroethanol) environment. These results indicate that the 38-57 region of beta subunit is exposed on the surface and constitutes a component in the receptor-binding domain for hCG and hLH. A region of amphipathic-helical structure in the 38-57 sequence may promote hormone-receptor interactions in a manner proposed for several other peptide hormones.

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