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Mol Endocrinol. 1997 May;11(5):517-26.

Induction of promiscuous G protein coupling of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) receptor: a novel mechanism for transducing pleiotropic actions of FSH isoforms.

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Women's Health Research Institute, Wyeth-Ayerst Research, Radnor, Pennsylvania 19087, USA.


Under physiological conditions, FSH is secreted into the circulation as a complex mixture of several isoforms that vary in the degree of glycosylation. Although it is well established that the glycosylation of FSH is important for the serum half-life of the hormone and coupling of the receptor to adenylate cyclase, little is known concerning how physiologically occurring glycosylation patterns of this hormone affect receptor signaling. In this study, we have examined the biological activity of deglycosylated human FSH (DeGly-phFSH), recombinant mammalian-expressed hFSH (CHO-hFSH), and insect cell-expressed hFSH (BV-hFSH, alternatively glycosylated) as compared with that of purified human pituitary FSH (phFSH) using a Chinese hamster ovarian cell line stably expressing the hFSH receptor (3D2 cells). Differentially glycosylated forms of FSH did not bind to the FSH receptor in the same manner as phFSH. Although all hormones showed similar potency in competing for [125I]phFSH binding to the hFSH receptor, competition curves for deglycosylated and insect cell-produced FSH were steeper. Similarly, glycosylation of FSH had a profound effect on bioactivity of the hormone. Purified hFSH produced a sigmoidal dose-dependent stimulation in cAMP production, whereas DeGly-phFSH and BV-hFSH induced biphasic (bell-shaped) dose-response curves. BV-hFSH also elicited biphasic effects on steroidogenesis in primary cultures of rat granulosa cells. The cellular response to BV-hFSH was dependent on the degree of receptor-transducer activation. BV-hFSH bioactivity was strictly inhibitory when combined with the ED80 of phFSH. Lower concentrations of phFSH resulted in a gradual shift from inhibition to a biphasic activity in the presence of the ED20 of phFSH. Biphasic responses to BV-hFSH were attributed to activation of different G protein subtypes, since treatment of 3D2 cells with cholera toxin or pertussis toxin differentially blocked the two phases of BV-hFSH bioactivity. These data suggest that alternative glycosylation of FSH leads to a functionally altered form of the hormone. Functionally different hormones appear to convey distinct signals that are transduced by the receptor-transduction system as either stimulatory or inhibitory intracellular events via promiscuous, glycosylation-dependent G protein coupling. Promiscuity in signaling of the FSH receptor, in turn, may represent a potentially novel mechanism for FSH action, whereby the gonad may respond in diverse ways to complex hormonal signals such as those presented by circulating FSH isoforms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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