The gene encoding the common alpha subunit of the four human glycoprotein hormones

J Mol Appl Genet. 1981;1(1):3-18.


The gene encoding the common alpha subunit of the four human glycoprotein hormones, chorionic gonadotropin (CG), luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), has been cloned in a bacteriophage lambda vector. Restriction endonuclease digestion of total human DNA suggests that the common alpha subunit is coded for by a single gene. Three distinct polymorphic hybridization patterns have been observed for this gene in the human population. The cloned gene encompasses a total of 9.4 kilobases (kb) and contains three intervening sequences whose locations have been established by restriction enzyme mapping and by DNA sequencing. One of the intervening sequences is located in the 5' untranslated region, generating a leader sequence that is separated from the rest of the gene by 6.4 kb. The other two intervening sequences are 1.7 and 0.4 kb long and are located within codon number 6, and between codons 67 and 68, respectively. The location of the 5' end of the mature transcript has been established by priming placental mRNA with a restriction fragment obtained from the cloned cDNA. A transcript of similar size for the alpha subunit gene has been detected in both the pituitary, where the gene is expressed for the synthesis of LH, FSH, and TSH, and the placenta, where the gene is expressed for the synthesis of CG. When parts of the 5' untranslated nucleotide sequences of the alpha subunit and the human growth hormone genes are compared a highly homologous region is observed. These otherwise unrelated genes share the common feature that they encode a secreted pituitary polypeptide hormone.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / genetics*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / genetics*
  • Genes*
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / genetics*
  • Pituitary Gland / metabolism
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Thyrotropin / genetics*


  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Glycoproteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Thyrotropin
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes

Associated data

  • GENBANK/J00149
  • GENBANK/J00150
  • GENBANK/J00151
  • GENBANK/J00152