A kinetic comparison of the processing and secretion of the alpha beta dimer and the uncombined alpha and beta subunits of chorionic gonadotropin synthesized by human choriocarcinoma cells

J Biol Chem. 1984 Dec 25;259(24):15123-30.


Human choriocarcinoma cells (JAR) synthesize the alpha and beta subunits of the glycoprotein hormone chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (R.W. Ruddon, C.A. Hanson, A. H. Bryan, G.J. Putterman, E.L. White, F. Perini, K. S. Meade, and P.H. Aldenderfer (1980) J. Biol. Chem. 255, 1000-1007). In addition to the hCG dimer (alpha beta), JAR cells secrete uncombined alpha and beta subunits into the culture medium (L.A. Cole, R.J. Hartle, J.A. Laferla, and R.W. Ruddon (1983) Endocrinology 113, 1176-1178). Pulse-chase studies with [35S]methionine or [3H]mannose were carried out in order to compare free alpha, free beta, and the alpha beta dimer with regard to the kinetics of synthesis, N-linked oligosaccharide processing, and secretion and to determine the kinetics of alpha-beta subunit combination. A panel of three antisera was used to immunoprecipitate directly the free subunits and the alpha beta dimer sequentially from the same cell lysates and culture media. The alpha subunit of hCG was synthesized in a slight molar excess (1.2-1.5-fold) over the beta subunit, and alpha beta dimer was rapidly formed by combination of the intracellular alpha and beta precursors. Dimer formation was already apparent in JAR cells following a 10-min biosynthetic labeling incubation with [35S]methionine. The combination of subunits ceased by 30 min of chase even though 51% of alpha and 44% of beta remained free within the cells. Combination of the alpha and beta precursors had occurred before their N-linked oligosaccharides were processed beyond the Man8GlcNAc2 structure. The initial trimming of glucosyl and mannosyl units from the high-mannose oligosaccharides of the hCG precursors occurred more rapidly for free alpha and CG-alpha than for free beta and CG-beta. JAR cells accumulated alpha precursors bearing mostly Man8GlcNAc2 units and beta precursors bearing Man8GlcNAc2 units that represent the substrates of the rate-limiting step in the secretory pathway. In spite of the fact that their N-linked oligosaccharides were trimmed at different rates, free alpha, free beta, and alpha beta dimer were all secreted into the medium at the same rate, with a half-time of 35 min. The secreted hCG forms were stable in the chase medium between 4 and 8h, indicating that extracellular degradation, combination of free subunits to form dimer, or dissociation of dimer to form free subunits did not occur.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Choriocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / genetics*
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / metabolism
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin, beta Subunit, Human
  • Female
  • Glycopeptides / isolation & purification
  • Glycoprotein Hormones, alpha Subunit
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Mannose / metabolism
  • Oligosaccharides / analysis
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Uterine Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin, beta Subunit, Human
  • Glycopeptides
  • Glycoprotein Hormones, alpha Subunit
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Mannose