Mouse pituitary tumors secreting almost exclusively thyroid stimulating hormone have been characterized electron microscopically.
Tumors of known thyrotropin content were separated into nuclear, mitochondrial, microsomal, and soluble fractions by differential centrifugation. The hormonal activity of these fractions was correlated with that of the total homogenates and with their nitrogen and phosphorus content. Essentially all the thyrotropin of the homogenate was recovered in a particulate fraction sedimenting between 20,000 and 40,000 g. This fraction contained the RNA granules and membranous components typical of microsomal pellets, but also showed the presence of small dense bodies surrounded by smooth membranes. These bodies were also visible within the endoplasmic reticulum of intact cells, and it is postulated that these bodies may represent the sites of intracellular elaboration and/or storage of TSH.
Thyrotropin is tightly associated with microsomal particles but can be brought into solution by treatment with alkaline media, deoxycholate, and certain organic solvents.