Glycoprotein hormones (GPHs) are the main regulators of the pituitary-thyroid and pituitary-gonadal axes. Selective interaction between GPHs and their cognate G protein-coupled receptors ensure specificity in GPH signaling. The mechanisms of how these hormones activate glycoprotein hormone receptors (GPHRs) or how mutations and autoantibodies can alter receptor function were unclear. Based on the hypothesis that GPHRs contain an internal agonist, we systematically screened peptide libraries derived from the ectodomain for agonistic activity on the receptors. We show that a peptide (p10) derived from a conserved sequence in the C-terminal part of the extracellular N terminus can activate all GPHRs in vitro and in GPHR-expressing tissues. Inactivating mutations in this conserved region or in p10 can inhibit activation of the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor by autoantibodies. Our data suggest an activation mechanism where, upon extracellular ligand binding, this intramolecular agonist isomerizes and induces structural changes in the 7-transmembrane helix domain, triggering G protein activation. This mechanism can explain the pathophysiology of activating autoantibodies and several mutations causing endocrine dysfunctions such as Graves disease and hypo- and hyperthyroidism. Our findings highlight an evolutionarily conserved activation mechanism of GPHRs and will further promote the development of specific ligands useful to treat Graves disease and other dysfunctions of GPHRs.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Journal of Biological Chemistry|
|Early online date||18 Nov 2015|
|Publication status||Published - 8 Jan 2016|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology