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Marie Saint-Dizier, Florence Foulon-Gauze, François Lecompte, Yves Combarnous, and Maryse Chopineau

Pituitary equine luteinizing hormone (eLH) and fetal chorionic gonadotrophin (eCG) have identical polypeptidic chains, but different linked carbohydrates. In equine tissues, eCG and eLH bind only to the LH/CG receptor (eLH/CG-R) and have no FSH activity. However, radio-receptor assays on equine luteal or testicular tissues have shown that eCG binds to the eLH/CG-R with only 2–4% of the binding activity of eLH. In order to study the structure–function relationship of eLH and eCG in a homologous sytem, we undertook the cloning and functional expression of the eLH/CG-R.

Based on sequence homologies among mammalian sequences for the LH/CG-R, overlapping partial fragments of LH/CG-R cDNAs were obtained from mare luteal RNA using reverse transcription-PCR and 5′-rapid amplification of cDNA ends. Ligations of the partial cDNA fragments encoded a part of the signal peptide followed by a putative 672 amino acid eLH/CG-R mature protein. The mature eLH/CG-R displayed 88.2–92.8% overall sequence homology with the other mammalian LH/CG-Rs and contained one unique seventh N-glycosylation site in its extracellular domain.

COS-7 cells were transiently transfected with a cDNA construct encoding an engineered complete signal peptide and the mature eLH/CG-R. Membrane preparations from transfected COS-7 cells bound 125I-eLH with high affinity (K d 3.8 × 10−10 M). On a molar basis, eCG competed with 125I-eLH on membrane preparations with only 12.4% of the eLH binding activity. In transfected COS-7, both eLH and eCG increased the extracellular cAMP concentration in a dose-dependent manner, whereas eFSH did not. Furthermore, on a molar basis, eCG stimulated cAMP production with only 13.9% of the eLH stimulating activity.

We conclude that the cloned cDNA encodes a The differences functional eLH/CG-R. between eLH and eCG activities towards this receptor will be useful in studies of the influence of carbohydrates on gonadotrophin receptor binding and activation.