The human chorionic gonadotropin-beta arginine68 to glutamic acid substitution fixes the conformation of the C-terminal peptide

Marie Charrel-Dennis, Nadia Terrazzini, Jeffrey D McBride, Paul Kaye, Pia M Martensen, Just Justesen, Peter Berger, Adrian Lapthorn, Charles Kelly, Ivan M Roitt, Peter J Delves, Torben Lund

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Wild-type human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) has been used as a contraceptive vaccine. However, extensive sequence homology with LH elicits production of cross-reactive antibodies. Substitution of arginine(68) of the beta-subunit (hCG(beta)) with glutamic acid (R68E) profoundly reduces the cross-reactivity while refocusing the immune response to the hCG(beta)-specific C-terminal peptide (CTP). To investigate the molecular basis for this change in epitope usage, we immunized mice with a plasmid encoding a truncated hCG(beta)-R68E chain lacking the CTP. The animals produced LH-cross-reactive antibodies, suggesting that the refocused immunogenicity of R68E is a consequence of epitope masking by a novel disposition of the CTP in the mutant rather than a structural change in the cross-reactive epitope region. This explanation was strongly supported by surface plasmon resonance analysis using a panel of anti-hCG(beta)-specific and anti-hCG(beta)/LH cross-reactive monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Whereas the binding of the LH cross-reactive mAbs to hCG(beta)-R68E was eliminated, mAbs reacting with hCG(beta)-specific epitopes bound to hCG(beta) and hCG(beta)-R68E with identical affinities. In a separate series of experiments, we observed that LH cross-reactive epitopes were silent after immunization with a plasmid encoding a membrane form of hCG(beta)-R68E, as previously observed with the soluble mutant protein itself. In contrast, the plasmid encoding the soluble secreted form of hCG(beta)-R68E evoked LH cross-reactive antibodies, albeit of relatively low titer, suggesting that the handling and processing of the proteins produced by the two constructs differed.

TidsskriftMolecular Endocrinology
Sider (fra-til)1803-11
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2005


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