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M. Simoni, G. F. Weinbauer, R. K. Chandolia, and E. Nieschlag


Testicular androgens are known to influence not only the secretion but also the bioactivity and molecular composition of pituitary FSH. In the present study, we investigated the effects of chronic androgen blockade and castration on the molecular heterogeneity of the gonadotrophin. Groups of male adult rats (five animals per group) received one of the following treatments: vehicle, the non-steroidal anti-androgens casodex (20 mg/kg per day) or flutamide (20 mg/kg per day), or castration. After 8 weeks, the animals were killed and individual pituitary homogenates fractionated by isoelectric focusing (IEF) on sucrose density gradients in the pH range 2·5–8. FSH was measured by radioimmunoassay (RIA) in the individual fractions and by in-vitro bioassay (Sertoli cell aromatase bioassay) in pools of fractions which were combined according to pH intervals of 0·5 units. Bioactive and immunoreactive FSH were also measured in sera and unfractionated pituitary extracts. Testosterone and inhibin were assayed in sera by RIA.

A significant increase in serum immunoreactive and bioactive FSH was demonstrated in flutamide-treated and castrated animals, whereas the pituitary content of bioactive FSH remained unchanged in the four groups. Serum testosterone and inhibin were undetectable in castrated animals and significantly increased in those treated with flutamide. By RIA, the IEF profiles of the flutamide-treated and castrated rats showed a significant reduction of the FSH isoforms with 3·5<pI<4, with a significant increase in the isoforms with pI>4 only in the castrated group. By bioassay, there was a significant decrease in the isoforms with 3·5<pI<4 in both casodex- and flutamide-treated animals, with no significant differences between the two groups. Castration caused a further significant shift in the relative distribution of FSH isoforms towards the less acidic components, with a significant increase in the isoforms with 5<pI<5·5 not attained by androgen blockade alone.

These results suggest that the effects of long-lasting castration on pituitary FSH heterogeneity cannot be entirely reproduced by the androgen blockade. Since inhibin, eliminated by castration but not by androgen blockade, is a major regulator of FSH in the male rat, we speculate that it might not only influence FSH secretion but also modulate its qualitative properties.

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J Gromoll, T Ried, H Holtgreve-Grez, E Nieschlag, and T Gudermann


Screening of a human genomic library with a cDNA probe corresponding to the transmembrane domain of the FSH receptor (FSHR) resulted in the identification of a positive clone with a DNA insert of approximately 17·5 kb. Part of the clone encoded exon 10 of the FSHR gene. Sequence analysis of this exon revealed an open reading frame corresponding to base positions 855–2085 of the FSHR cDNA, thereby coding for 410 amino acids. Exon 10 was found to comprise the seven transmembrane domains, the C-terminal intracellular domain and a fragment of 81 amino acids belonging to the extracellular N-terminal domain of the FSHR. The exon/intron boundary is in phase 2 and the amino acid which resides in this junction is isoleucine. The genomic clone was used to map the chromosomal localization of the human FSHR gene. In situ hybridization experiments allowed the allocation of the human gene to chromosome 2 p21. As this position is identical to that of the human LH receptor gene, these two receptor genes may have evolved from a common ancestor.