The tail of the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone receptor: desensitization at, and distal to, G protein-coupled receptors

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 1999 May 25;151(1-2):129-36. doi: 10.1016/s0303-7207(99)00024-6.


In recent years a general scheme for the rapid desensitization and cycling of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has emerged. In this scheme agonist-induced phosphorylation (most often in the receptors' C-terminal tail) causes association with beta-arrestin which not only reduces the efficiency of G-protein activation, but also targets these desensitized receptors for internalization, after which they may be either proteolytically degraded or resensitized and recycled back to the cell surface. Although sustained stimulation of pituitary gonadotrophs with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is known to cause a pronounced desensitization of GnRH-stimulated gonadotrophin secretion, the discovery that mammalian GnRH receptors do not possess C-terminal tails raised the question of whether receptor desensitization is involved. This review outlines data demonstrating that tail-less mammalian GnRH receptors can be considered as natural desensitization and internalization deficient 'mutants'. This is in stark contrast to non-mammalian GnRH receptors which do possess tails and conform to the general scheme. In the absence of receptor desensitization, post receptor mechanisms take on increasing importance for desensitization of GnRH action via mammalian GnRH receptors. The down regulation of Ins(1,4,5)P3 receptors and consequent desensitization of GnRH effects on cytosolic Ca2+ are discussed as a novel mechanism for such desensitization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, LHRH / chemistry
  • Receptors, LHRH / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Receptors, LHRH
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • GTP-Binding Proteins