Chorionic gonadotropin (CG) and lutropin (LH) are members of a family of glycoprotein hormones that share a common alpha subunit but differ in their hormone-specific beta subunits. The glycoprotein hormone beta subunits share a high degree of amino acid homology that is most evident for the LH beta and CG beta subunits having greater than 80% sequence similarity. However, transfection studies have shown that human CG beta and alpha can be secreted as monomers and can combine efficiently to form dimer, whereas secretion and assembly of human LH beta is less efficient. To determine which specific regions of the LH beta and CG beta subunits are responsible for these differences, mutant and chimeric LH beta-CG beta genes were constructed and transfected into CHO cells. Expression of these subunits showed that both the hydrophobic carboxy-terminal seven amino acids and amino acids Trp8, Ile15, Met42, and Asp77 together inhibit the secretion of LH beta. The carboxy-terminal amino acids, along with Trp8, Ile15, Met42, and Thr58 are implicated in the delayed assembly of LH beta. These unique features of LH beta may also play an important role in pituitary intracellular events and may be responsible for the differential glycosylation and sorting of LH and FSH in gonadotrophs.

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