The role of O-linked and N-linked oligosaccharides on the structure-function of glycoprotein hormones: Development of agonists and antagonists

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Abstract

Thyrotropin (TSH) and the gonadotropins; follitropin (FSH), lutropin (LH) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are a family of heterodimeric glycoprotein hormones. These hormones composed of two noncovalently linked subunits; a common α and a hormone specific β subunits. Assembly of the subunits is vital to the function of these hormones. However, genetic fusion of the α and β subunits of hFSH, hCG and hTSH resulted in active polypeptides. The glycoprotein hormone subunits contain one (TSH and LH) or two (α, FSHβ and hCGβ) asparagine-linked (N-linked) oligosaccharides. CGβ subunit is distinguished among the β subunits because of the presence of a carboxyl-terminal peptide (CTP) bearing four O-linked oligosaccharide chains. To examine the role of the oligosaccharide chains on the structure-function of glycoprotein hormones, chemical, enzymatic and site-directed mutagenesis were used. The results indicated that O-linked oligosaccharides play a minor role in receptor binding and signal transduction of the glycoprotein hormones. In contrast, the O-linked oligosaccharides are critical for in vivo half-life and bioactivity. Ligation of the CTP bearing four O-linked oligosaccharide sites to different proteins, resulted in enhancing the in vivo bioactivity and half-life of the proteins. The N-linked oligosaccharide chains have a minor role in receptor binding of glycoprotein hormones, but they are critical for bioactivity. Moreover, glycoprotein hormones lacking N-linked oligosaccharides behave as antagonists. In conclusion, the O-linked oligosaccharides are not important for in vitro bioactivity or receptor binding, but they play an important role in the in vivo bioactivity and half-life of the glycoprotein hormones. Addition of the O-linked oligosaccharide chains to the backbone of glycoprotein hormones could be an interesting strategy for designing long acting agonists of glycoprotein hormones. On the other hand, the N-linked oligosaccharides are not important for receptor binding, but they are critical for bioactivity of glycoprotein hormones. Deletion of the N-linked oligosaccharides resulted in the development of glycoprotein hormone antagonists. In the case of hTSH, development of an antagonist may offer a novel therapeutic strategy in the treatment of thyrotoxicosis caused by Graves' disease and TSH secreting pituitary adenoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-567
Number of pages8
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Volume1760
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant from the Israel Science Foundation. Grant No. 617/01. I am grateful to Dr. Gedeon Ramni for his constructive comments regarding the manuscript.

Keywords

  • Agonist
  • Antagonist
  • Glycoprotein hormone
  • N-linked oligosaccharide
  • O-linked oligosaccharide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry

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