The luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR) plays an essential role as a mediator of LH and CG action during embryonic sexual differentiation and in gametogenesis. In a hypogonadal male patient, we recently demonstrated that a genomic deletion of exon 10, located in the hinge region of the extracellular domain, results in discrimination of LH and hCG action. In the common marmoset (Calltithrix jacchus), exon 10 of the LHR is naturally missing at the mRNA level. In order to investigate whether this is an isolated species-specific phenomenon, we performed a phylogenetic screening, searching for the presence of LHR exon 10 mRNA in a number of primate species representative for the major lineages of primate evolution. The expressed LHR region encompassing exon 10 was amplified from testicular tissue by RT-PCR, cloned, and sequenced. In addition, we performed Southern blot analysis of the LHR of selected New World and Old World primates. The results revealed that exon 10 mRNA is lacking in the complete New World monkey (Platyrrhini) lineage but is present in both more primitive and more advanced primates. However, exon 10 seems to be present at the genomic level, arguing for a splicing failure possibly due to a genomic mutation or the lack of appropriate splicing factors. Considering that, in the human, LH is far less active than hCG on the LHR lacking exon 10, we addressed the question whether the existence of such a receptor has any consequences on the dual hormone LH/CG system present in Platyrrhini. Using primers specific for the known marmoset CG β cDNA, we amplified the CG β subunit cDNA from male common marmoset pituitaries by RT-PCR, while LH β could not be amplified, suggesting a possible physiological role of pituitary CG in this species. In conclusion, we demonstrated for the first time that the LH mRNA without exon10 is the natural wild-type LHR in the Platyrrhini lineage. We propose that this LHR represents a new subclass of receptors that should be named LHR type II. In addition, the high expression of CG β in the marmoset pituitary suggests a physiological role of CG in the reproductive function of these primates beyond pregnancy.
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