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K-C Peng, D Puett, and J M Brewer


Although differing in their amino acid sequences, the folding patterns of the α and β subunits of human choriogonadotropin are similar in the crystal structure of the HF-treated glycoprotein hormone. Each subunit forms a cystine-knot motif like that found in several growth factors that form homodimers and heterodimers. In order to ascertain if the α and β subunits can self-associate, e.g. to form homodimers, sedimentation equilibrium at various glycoprotein concentrations and temperatures was used to study the subunits of bovine lutropin, which are expected to exhibit conformations like those of the choriogonadotropin subunits. Each subunit was found to form homodimers with K d values of 0·3 and 0·1 mm for α and β respectively at 37 °C. Self-association was weakly exothermic for α and endothermic for β; entropic factors made a major contribution for each. It is unlikely that homodimer formation of either subunit would be physiologically important, although homodimers may form to some extent intracellularly because of the relatively high concentrations during biosynthesis.