In order to elucidate the roles of human growth hormone (hGH) in the normal (control) pituitary and in adenomas, the hGH isoforms in the human pituitary were analyzed with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, immobilized metal affinity column (Ga(+3)) chromatography, mass spectrometry (MS), and bioinformatics. Twenty-four hGH-containing proteins, with significantly different expression proportions of their isoforms were found. The proportions of isoforms were as follows: isoform 1 (87.5%) > isoform 2 (8.1%) > isoform 3 (3.3%) > isoform 4 (1.1%). Deamidation of asparagine to aspartate was identified with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight MS. Tandem mass spectrometry data demonstrated that hGH is a phosphoprotein (spot 6); phosphorylation was found at Ser-77 in the tryptic peptide (68)YSFLQNPQTSLCFSESIPTPSNR(90), at Ser-176 in the tryptic peptide (172)FDTNSHNDDALLK(184), and at Ser-132 in the peptide (126)SLVYGASDSNVYDLLK(141). The phosphorylation sites at Ser-77 and Ser-176 were consistent with computer-program predictions (NetPhos). These results provide novel clues for further studies of the functions, and mechanisms of action, of hGH in the human pituitary and in growth hormone-related diseases.
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