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Hoermann, R.; Poertl, S.; Liss, I.; Amir, S.M.; Mann, K. (1995): Variation in the Thyrotropic Activity of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin in Chinese Hamster Ovary Cells Arises from Differential Expression of the Human Thyrotropin Receptor and Microheterogeneity of the Hormone. In: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 80, No. 5: pp. 1605-1610




The role of hCG as a stimulator of the human thyroid has been a subject of controversy, because discrepant results have been obtained in different in vitro assays. In an attempt to explain the variation observed in the thyroid response to hCG, we investigated the ability of hCG and that of its isoforms and glycosylation variants to inhibit [125I]bovine (b) TSH binding and stimulate adenylate cyclase in two clones, JP09 and JP26, of Chinese hamster ovary cells stably transfected with the human TSH receptor (hTSHr). The two clones differed with respect to the number of hTSHr expressed per cell (34,000 in JP09 and 2,000 in JP26 cells). Both responded extremely well to bTSH; the cAMP response to 0.001 IU/L bTSH was distinguishable from basal values. Interestingly, JP09 cells were readily stimulated by hCG (20-100 mg/L; 0.52-2.6 x 10(-6) mol/L) to release cAMP, whereas JP26 cells showed little if any response. Also, cAMP stimulation produced by asialo-hCG was 12-fold in JP09 cells and only 4-fold in JP26 cells compared to 45- and 67-fold stimulations by bTSH, respectively. Stimulation by asialo-hCG was approximately 30% that of bTSH in JP09 cells, but less than 6% in JP26 cells. When assessing the thyrotropic activity of the microheterogeneous isoforms of hCG, more alkaline pI forms were found to be more active than those of a more acidic pI regardless of whether they were derived from normal or molar pregnancy urine. Further studies with hCG, asialo-hCG, asialoagalacto-hCG, and deglycosylated hCG revealed that removal of sialic acid caused a marked increase in both its affinity for hTSHr and its cAMP-releasing potency, whereas removal of further carbohydrate, although it slightly enhanced receptor binding, was detrimental to adenylate cyclase activation. In conclusion, differences in hTSHr expression may cause a variation in the cAMP response to hCG or its glycosylation variants, as does the microheterogeneity of the hormone itself. These mechanisms may be responsible at least in part for the divergent responses of different cell types to hCG and render interpretation of the physiological meaning of the data obtained in recombinant receptor systems difficult.