The mechanism by which the hinge regions of glycoprotein hormone receptors couple hormone binding to activation of downstream effecters is not clearly understood. In the present study, agonistic (311.62) and antagonistic (311.87) monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) directed against the TSH receptor extracellular domain were used to elucidate role of the hinge region in receptor activation. MAb 311.62 which identifies the LRR/Cb-2 junction (aa 265-275), increased the affinity of TSHR for the hormone while concomitantly decreasing its efficacy, whereas MAb 311.87 recognizing LRR 7-9 (aa 201-259) acted as a non-competitive inhibitor of Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) binding. Binding of MAbs was sensitive to the conformational changes caused by the activating and inactivating mutations and exhibited differential effects on hormone binding and response of these mutants. By studying the effects of these MAbs on truncation and chimeric mutants of thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR), this study confirms the tethered inverse agonistic role played by the hinge region and maps the interactions between TSHR hinge region and exoloops responsible for maintenance of the receptor in its basal state. Mechanistic studies on the antibody-receptor interactions suggest that MAb 311.87 is an allosteric insurmountable antagonist and inhibits initiation of the hormone induced conformational changes in the hinge region, whereas MAb 311.62 acts as a partial agonist that recognizes a conformational epitope critical for coupling of hormone binding to receptor activation. The hinge region, probably in close proximity with the α-subunit in the hormone-receptor complex, acts as a tunable switch between hormone binding and receptor activation.
Majumdar, R., & Dighe, R. R. (2012). The hinge region of human Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) receptor operates as a tunable switch between hormone binding and receptor activation. PLoS ONE, 7(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0040291