Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Redirecting intracellular trafficking and the secretion pattern of FSH dramatically enhances ovarian function in mice.

PMID 24706813


FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH) are secreted constitutively or in pulses, respectively, from pituitary gonadotropes in many vertebrates, and regulate ovarian function. The molecular basis for this evolutionarily conserved gonadotropin-specific secretion pattern is not understood. Here, we show that the carboxyterminal heptapeptide in LH is a gonadotropin-sorting determinant in vivo that directs pulsatile secretion. FSH containing this heptapeptide enters the regulated pathway in gonadotropes of transgenic mice, and is released in response to gonadotropin-releasing hormone, similar to LH. FSH released from the LH secretory pathway rescued ovarian defects in Fshb-null mice as efficiently as constitutively secreted FSH. Interestingly, the rerouted FSH enhanced ovarian follicle survival, caused a dramatic increase in number of ovulations, and prolonged female reproductive lifespan. Furthermore, the rerouted FSH vastly improved the in vivo fertilization competency of eggs, their subsequent development in vitro and when transplanted, the ability to produce offspring. Our study demonstrates the feasibility to fine-tune the target tissue responses by modifying the intracellular trafficking and secretory fate of a pituitary trophic hormone. The approach to interconvert the secretory fate of proteins in vivo has pathophysiological significance, and could explain the etiology of several hormone hyperstimulation and resistance syndromes.