Genomics and genetics of gonadotropin beta-subunit genes: Unique FSHB and duplicated LHB/CGB loci

Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu, Riia St. 23, 51010 Tartu, Estonia.
Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.41). 11/2010; 329(1-2):4-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.mce.2010.04.024
Source: PubMed


The follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) play a critical role in human reproduction. Despite the common evolutionary ancestry and functional relatedness of the gonadotropin hormone beta (GtHB) genes, the single-copy FSHB (at 11p13) and the multi-copy LHB/CGB genes (at 19q13.32) exhibit locus-specific differences regarding their genomic context, evolution, genetic variation and expressional profile. FSHB represents a conservative vertebrate gene with a unique function and it is located in a structurally stable gene-poor region. In contrast, the primate-specific LHB/CGB gene cluster is located in a gene-rich genomic context and demonstrates an example of evolutionary young and unstable genomic region. The gene cluster is shaped by a constant balance between selection that acts on specific functions of the loci and frequent gene conversion events among duplicons. As the transcription of the GtHB genes is rate-limiting in the assembly of respective hormones, the genomic and genetic context of the FSHB and the LHB/CGB genes largely affects the profile of the hormone production.

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    • "The anterior pituitary produces FSH, with transcription of FSHB being the rate-limiting step for FSH production. FSH stimulates target cells by binding to the FSH receptor (FSHR), a G-protein-coupled receptor (Fan and Hendrickson, 2005), promoting follicle maturation and estrogen production in women, and Sertoli cell proliferation and spermatogenesis in men (Nagirnaja et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Study question: How does a genetic variant in the FSHB promoter, known to alter FSH levels, impact female reproductive health? Summary answer: The T allele of the FSHB promoter polymorphism (rs10835638; c.-211G>T) results in longer menstrual cycles and later menopause and, while having detrimental effects on fertility, is protective against endometriosis. What is known already: The FSHB promoter polymorphism (rs10835638; c.-211G>T) affects levels of FSHB transcription and, as a result, circulating levels of FSH. FSH is required for normal fertility and genetic variants at the FSHB locus are associated with age at menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Study design, size, duration: We used cross-sectional data from the UK Biobank to look at associations between the FSHB promoter polymorphism and reproductive traits, and performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for length of menstrual cycle. Participants/materials, setting, methods: We included white British individuals aged 40-69 years in 2006-2010, in the May 2015 release of genetic data from UK Biobank. We tested the FSH-lowering T allele of the FSHB promoter polymorphism (rs10835638; c.-211G>T) for associations with 29, mainly female, reproductive phenotypes in up to 63 350 women and 56 608 men. We conducted a GWAS in 9534 individuals to identify genetic variants associated with length of menstrual cycle. Main results and the role of chance: The FSH-lowering T allele of the FSHB promoter polymorphism (rs10835638; MAF 0.16) was associated with longer menstrual cycles [0.16 SD (c. 1 day) per minor allele; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.12-0.20; P = 6 × 10(-16)], later age at menopause (0.13 years per minor allele; 95% CI 0.04-0.22; P = 5.7 × 10(-3)), greater female nulliparity [odds ratio (OR) = 1.06; 95% CI 1.02-1.11; P = 4.8 × 10(-3)] and lower risk of endometriosis (OR = 0.79; 95% CI 0.69-0.90; P = 4.1 × 10(-4)). The FSH-lowering T allele was not associated with other female reproductive illnesses or conditions in our study and we did not replicate associations with male infertility or PCOS. In the GWAS for menstrual cycle length, only variants near the FSHB gene reached genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10(-9)). Limitations, reasons for caution: The data included might be affected by recall bias. Cycle length was not available for 25% of women still cycling (1% did not answer, 6% did not know and for 18% cycle length was recorded as 'irregular'). Women with a cycle length recorded were aged over 40 and were approaching menopause; however, we did not find evidence that this affected the results. Many of the groups with illnesses had relatively small sample sizes and so the study may have been under-powered to detect an effect. Wider implications of the findings: We found a strong novel association between a genetic variant that lowers FSH levels and longer menstrual cycles, at a locus previously robustly associated with age at menopause. The variant was also associated with nulliparity and endometriosis risk. These findings should now be verified in a second independent group of patients. We conclude that lifetime differences in circulating levels of FSH between individuals can influence menstrual cycle length and a range of reproductive outcomes, including menopause timing, infertility, endometriosis and PCOS. Study funding/competing interests: None. Trial registration number: Not applicable.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Human Reproduction
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    • "Genes in the LHB-CGB cluster are both functionally and evolutionarily related (Liina Nagirnaja, 2010), and subsequently have a high degree of sequence homology. In such cases, the sequence specificity of each microarray probe is a key determinant in differentiating between the expression of individual genes. "
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    ABSTRACT: As males and females share highly similar genomes, the regulation of many sexually dimorphic traits is constrained to occur through sex-biased gene regulation. There is strong evidence that human males and females differ in terms of growth and development in utero and that these divergent growth strategies appear to place males at increased risk when in sub-optimal conditions. Since the placenta is the interface of maternal-fetal exchange throughout pregnancy, these developmental differences are most likely orchestrated by differential placental function. To date, progress in this field has been hampered by a lack of genome-wide information on sex differences in placental gene expression. Therefore, our motivation in this study was to characterize sex-biased gene expression in the human placenta. We obtained gene expression data for >300 non-pathological placenta samples from 11 microarray datasets and applied mapping-based array probe re-annotation and inverse-variance meta-analysis methods which showed that >140 genes (false discovery rate (FDR) <0.05) are differentially expressed between male and female placentae. A majority of these genes (>60%) are autosomal, many of which are involved in high-level regulatory processes such as gene transcription, cell growth and proliferation and hormonal function. Of particular interest, we detected higher female expression from all seven genes in the LHB-CGB cluster, which includes genes involved in placental development, the maintenance of pregnancy and maternal immune tolerance of the conceptus. These results demonstrate that sex-biased gene expression in the normal human placenta occurs across the genome and includes genes that are central to growth, development and the maintenance of pregnancy.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Molecular Human Reproduction
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    • "The unique functions and receptor-binding capacity of each of these hormones stem from differences among the b subunits (Table 1). Transcription of the b-subunit is the rate-limiting step in LH and CG production (Nagirnaja et al., 2010). The genes for the LH and hCG b subunits are located within a cluster of seven similar sequences on human chromosome 19q13.32 "
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    ABSTRACT: Luteinizing hormone (LH) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are widely recognized for their roles in ovulation and the support of early pregnancy. Aside from the timing of expression, however, the differences between LH and hCG have largely been overlooked in the clinical realm because of their similar molecular structures and shared receptor. With technologic advancements, including the development of highly purified and recombinant gonadotropins, researchers now appreciate that these hormones are not as interchangeable as once believed. Although they bind to a common receptor, emerging evidence suggests that LH and hCG have disparate effects on downstream signaling cascades. Increased understanding of the inherent differences between LH and hCG will foster more effective diagnostic and prognostic assays for use in a variety of clinical contexts and support the individualization of treatment strategies for conditions such as infertility.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology
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