The American journal of physiology

Disulfide-linked aggregation of thyroglobulin normally occurs during nascent protein folding.

PMID 8214027


In the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of cultured porcine thyrocytes, newly synthesized thyroglobulin (Tg, the precursor in thyroid hormone synthesis) initially forms protein aggregates, which are dissolved into monomers and then assembled to dimers, before intracellular transport and secretion. However, studies suggest that in different physiological states and in different cells, folding efficiency in the ER may vary; with this in mind we have set out to further characterize the phenomenon of nascent Tg aggregation. In primary cultured thyrocytes, fresh thyroid follicular tissue (of porcine and rat origin), and the FRTL-5 cell line, nascent Tg appears transiently aggregated with mispaired, interchain disulfide linkages. Using a cell lysis procedure that maximally inhibits proteolysis as well as artifactual disulfide formation, Tg aggregates of M(r) > or = 2,000,000 can be stably isolated by gel filtration. Furthermore, stimulation with thyrotropin and other hormones that enhance Tg production may alter but does not eliminate formation of these aggregates. We conclude that transient disulfide-linked aggregation occurs normally during Tg folding in the ER of thyroid epithelial cells.