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The Human Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Type I Receptor Is a Functional Intracellular GPCR Expressed on the Nuclear Membrane

By Michelle Re, Macarena Pampillo, Martin Savard, Céléna Dubuc, Craig A. McArdle, Robert P. Millar, P. Michael Conn, Fernand Gobeil, Moshmi Bhattacharya and Andy V. Babwah


The mammalian type I gonadotropin releasing hormone receptor (GnRH-R) is a structurally unique G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) that lacks cytoplasmic tail sequences and displays inefficient plasma membrane expression (PME). Compared to its murine counterparts, the primate type I receptor is inefficiently folded and retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) leading to a further reduction in PME. The decrease in PME and concomitant increase in intracellular localization of the mammalian GnRH-RI led us to characterize the spatial distribution of the human and mouse GnRH receptors in two human cell lines, HEK 293 and HTR-8/SVneo. In both human cell lines we found the receptors were expressed in the cytoplasm and were associated with the ER and nuclear membrane. A molecular analysis of the receptor protein sequence led us to identify a putative monopartite nuclear localization sequence (NLS) in the first intracellular loop of GnRH-RI. Surprisingly, however, neither the deletion of the NLS nor the addition of the Xenopus GnRH-R cytoplasmic tail sequences to the human receptor altered its spatial distribution. Finally, we demonstrate that GnRH treatment of nuclei isolated from HEK 293 cells expressing exogenous GnRH-RI triggers a significant increase in the acetylation and phosphorylation of histone H3, thereby revealing that the nuclear-localized receptor is functional. Based on our findings, we conclude that the mammalian GnRH-RI is an intracellular GPCR that is expressed on the nuclear membrane. This major and novel discovery causes us to reassess the signaling potential of this physiologically and clinically important receptor

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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