Combined modification of intracellular and extracellular loci on human gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor provides a mechanism for enhanced expression

Endocrine. 2000 Dec;13(3):401-7. doi: 10.1385/ENDO:13:3:401.


The mammalian gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor (GnRH-R) has been a therapeutic target for human and animal medicine. This receptor is a unique G-protein-coupled receptor that lacks the intracellular C-terminal domain commonly associated with this family. Development of highthrough put screens for agents active in humans has been hampered by low expression levels of the hGnRH-R in cellular models. Two sites have attracted the interest of laboratories studying regulation of expression. The chimeric addition of the C-terminal tail from catfish GnRH-R (cfGnRH-R) to the rat GnRH-R significantly augmented receptor expression in GH3 cells. In addition, rodent GnRH-R contains 327 amino acids, but cow, sheep, and human GnRH-R (hGnRH-R) contain 328 residues, the "additional" residue being a Lys 191. Deletion of Lys 191 (del 191) from the hGnRH-R resulted in increased receptor expression levels and decreased internalization rates in both COS-7 and HEK 293 cells. In this study, the combined effect of the addition of the C-tail from cfGnRH-R and deletion of the Lys 191 from the hGnRH-R was compared to expression of the wild-type (WT) or either alteration alone in a transient expression system using primate cells. The altered receptor (hGnRH-R[del 191]-C-tail) showed significantly increased receptor expression at the cell surface compared with the WT or either modification alone. The inositol phosphate response to stimulation was also significantly elevated in response to GnRH agonist. After treatment with a GnRH agonist, the altered receptors showed a slower internalization rate. The homologous steady-state regulation of the WT and the altered receptors was similar, although the response of the altered receptors was significantly decreased. These results suggest that the conformational change in the receptor as a result of the deletion of Lys 191 and the addition of the C-terminus tail substantially increased the steady-state receptor expression and decreased internalization and homologous regulation. Because the effects on expression are greater than additive, it appears that these alterations exert their effects by differing means. These techniques for expression of the hGnRH-R in transfected mammalian cells provide the basis for a therapeutic screen for GnRH analogs, agonists, and antagonists of the hGnRH.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Buserelin / metabolism
  • COS Cells
  • Catfishes
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Inositol Phosphates / metabolism
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Kinetics
  • Lysine
  • Mice
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Protein Conformation
  • Rats
  • Receptors, LHRH / chemistry*
  • Receptors, LHRH / genetics*
  • Receptors, LHRH / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship*
  • Transfection


  • Inositol Phosphates
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Receptors, LHRH
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Lysine
  • Buserelin