The role of glycosylation in regulating glycoprotein hormone free alpha subunit and free beta subunit combination in the extra-embryonic coelomic fluid of early pregnancy

Blithe, D. L. and Iles, Ray K. (1995) The role of glycosylation in regulating glycoprotein hormone free alpha subunit and free beta subunit combination in the extra-embryonic coelomic fluid of early pregnancy. Endocrinology, 136 (3) . pp. 903-910. ISSN 0013-7227 [Article] (doi:10.1210/en.136.3.903)

PDF (Iles 1996) - Published version (with publisher's formatting)
Download (2MB) | Preview


The extraembryonic coelomic fluid (EECF) represents a major compartment in the fetal-placental unit during the first trimester of pregnancy. The compartment is composed of the fluid contained between the chorionic and amniotic membranes. The levels of glycoprotein hormone free alpha-subunit and free beta-subunit in the EECF far exceed those in the amniotic fluid or maternal serum. Furthermore, the level of free alpha in this compartment is twice that of intact hCG. We purified the glycoprotein hormone free alpha-subunit from a pool of EECF. This free alpha-subunit was found to be larger in size than the alpha-subunit of intact hCG. The size difference was observed by sodium dodecyl sulfate- polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis under reduced and denatured conditions. The carbohydrate composition of the EECF free alpha-subunit indicated a higher degree of oligosaccharide branching, as evidenced by larger amounts of fucose, sialic acid, galactose, and N- acetylglucosamine than were present on combined hCG alpha. These differences in size and carbohydrate composition argue strongly against the concept that free alpha-subunits might originate from dissociation of intact hCG or "nicked" hCG. The free subunits of the EECF were evaluated for their ability to combine with the corresponding subunit obtained by dissociation of intact hCG. EECF free beta was able to combine with hCG alpha to form intact hCG. In contrast, EECF free alpha was unable to combine with hCG beta to form intact hCG. However, after removal of the asparagine-linked glycans by treatment with N-glycanase, most of the previously uncombinable free alpha-subunits were able to combine with hCG beta. These data demonstrate that the N-linked oligosaccharide(s) of EECF free alpha function to prevent the molecule from combining with the available and combinable free beta-sub-units that coexist in the same physiological compartment during early pregnancy. In view of the large amount of free alpha that is present in the EECF and the observation that, in vitro, free alpha can stimulate uterine decidual cell PRL secretion, together with the close apposition of free alpha-producing cells to decidual cells, it is likely that EECF free alpha has a function in early pregnancy. Carbohydrate modifications generated during the biosynthesis of EECF free alpha- subunit ensure that a population of free alpha molecules can exist in the presence of substantial quantities of free beta-subunits, and correspondingly, these same carbohydrate modifications function to permit the existence of free beta-subunits in the same gestational compartment with free alpha molecules.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
Item ID: 792
Depositing User: Professor Ray Iles
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2009 08:50
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 03:20

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.