University of Oulu

Luteinizing hormone receptor : expression and post-translational regulation of the rat receptor and its ectodomain splice variant

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Author: Apaja, Pirjo1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
2University of Oulu, Biocenter Oulu
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2005
Publish Date: 2005-11-16
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Auditorium 5 of the Institute of Dentistry, on November 25th, 2005, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Docent Olli Ritvos
Professor Jorma Toppari


The luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR) is a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) that has a large N-terminal ligand binding ectodomain. The LHR ectodomain splice variant, expressed concomitantly with the full-length LHR in tissues, has an unknown biological function. GPCRs are a major pharmacological target, however, very little is known about the intracellular regulation of these receptors. In the present work, expression and maturation of the rat LHR and its variant were elucidated using both tissues and heterologous expression systems. A special effort was made to identify the role of developmental stage and tissue type on the LHR maturation and to find out about the molecular role of the ectodomain splice variant.

We found two sites of localization for the receptor, namely the sensory system and urogenital tissues. This was demonstrated at mRNA and protein level and by rat LHR promoter-driven β-galactosidase (β-Gal) expression in the mice. In neurons, the β-Gal co-localized with the cytochrome P450 side chain cleavage enzyme, which may indicate a novel role in the neurosteroid synthesis.

The neuronal LHR was expressed in the mature and immature protein forms in both developing and adult tissues, being able to bind hormone with similar high-affinity as gonadal receptors. In contrast, only immature receptors were detected in the fetal rat urogenital structures. A significant novel finding was substantial upregulation of the LHR in pregnant female rat adrenal glands and kidneys at a time that coincides with the differentiation of the fetal urogenital tissues.

The mice overexpressing the ectodomain splice variant showed interference in pituitary-gonadal functions and morphological changes in the urogenital tissues. The studies showed that the variant was an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-retained soluble protein. It accumulated in juxtanuclear regions of the ER together with ER folding chaperones and was a substrate for ER associated degradation (ERAD). The co-expression of the variant with the full-length receptor decreased the amount of receptors and misrouted them to the juxtanuclear ER subcompartment.

Taken together, we suggest that the maturation of the LHR protein is developmentally and physiologically regulated at the post-translational level in tissues. The LHR ectodomain splice variant possibly modulates post-translationally the number of full-length receptors through physiological signals. Our observation of the chaperone and protein accumulation into a specific ER subcompartment may represent a protein quality control holding compartment for inefficiently/misfolded ERAD substrates.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7929-8
ISBN Print: 951-42-7928-X
Issue: 861
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2005. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.