Molecular size and charge as dimensions to identify and characterize circulating glycoforms of human FSH, LH and TSH
Background: FSH, LH, and TSH are glycoprotein hormones secreted from the pituitary as fully and low-asparagine-glycosylated hormones. These glycoforms of the hormones exist as a large number of isoforms varying in their glycan contents of terminal anionic monosaccharides (AMS), i.e. sialic acid (SA) and sulfonated N-acetylgalactosamine (SU). Due to the immense heterogeneity and the low concentrations in serum it has been a challenge to develop reliable analytical methods to measure and characterize the circulating glycoforms of these hormones.
Methods: The hormones were separated with respect to AMS content per molecule by calibrated 0.1% agarose suspension electrophoreses. Glycoforms in separated fractions were then analyzed with respect to size by 180 calibrated Sephadex G-100 gel filtrations. The hormones were measured with time-resolved sandwich fluoroimmunoassays. All separations and assays were performed in veronal buffer at pH 8.7. Sera and fractions were also analyzed after removal of terminal SA.
Results: In addition to the fully glycosylated FSH, LH, and TSH, also tri-glycosylated FSH and di-glycosylated LH and TSH forms could be identified in serum samples. The low- and fully glycosylated hormones differed both with respect to size and to median number of AMS per molecule. Algorithms, based on the distributions by electrophoreses, were developed for each hormone to estimate percent low-glycosylated forms in serum. The median numbers of SA and SU per glycoform molecule were estimated using results obtained after desialylation.
Conclusion: The methods can be used for identification and characterization of glycoforms of circulating FSH, LH, and TSH in physiological and clinical studies.
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