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Mobilities of the Inner Three Core Residues and the Man(α1→6) Branch of the Glycan at Asn78 of the α-Subunit of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Are Restricted by the Protein

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journal contribution
posted on 30.01.1998 by Carol W. E. M. Thijssen-van Zuylen, Tonny de Beer, Bas R. Leeflang, Rolf Boelens, Robert Kaptein, Johannis P. Kamerling, Johannes F. G. Vliegenthart
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a heterodimeric glycoprotein hormone involved in the maintenance of the corpus luteum in early pregnancy. The free α-subunit of hCG has a biological activity of its own, namely, stimulation of prolactin secretion from term pregnancy decidual cells [Blithe, D. L., et al. (1991) Endocrinology 129, 2257−2259]. Glycosylation at Asn78 of the α-subunit is required for the stability of the protein, but the exact nature of the stabilizing effect is not known. In our previous study, it was indicated that GlcNAc-1 at Asn78 has a reduced mobility, whereas the glycan at Asn52 is highly mobile [De Beer, T., et al. (1996) Eur. J. Biochem. 241, 229−242]. In the present investigation, it is shown that the PNGase F susceptibility of the Asn52-linked glycan in the free α-subunit is absent in the heterodimer. Thus, the high mobility of the glycan at Asn52 may be characteristic for the free α-subunit. For accurate modeling of αhCG, knowledge of the behavior of each of the glycans is essential. In this context, the mobility of the glycans and their interactions with the protein are explored by NMR spectroscopy using desialylated, partially deglycosylated free α-subunit (as-pdα) carrying glycans at Asn78 only. NOEs between GlcNAc-2 and several amino acid residues indicate that GlcNAc-2 is involved in stabilizing αhCG. From the values of 13C relaxation parameters T2 and T1ρ of the constituting monosaccharide residues, it was concluded that the inner three residues have a severely restricted mobility. The Man-4 and Man-4‘ residues of the diantennary oligosaccharide exhibit a similar relaxation behavior, suggesting that the Man-4‘ branch occurs in a single conformation of the C5−C6 linkage of Man-3 instead of in rapidly interconverting conformations that are known to exist for this linkage for the free oligosaccharide.