Glucose-regulated protein, 78-kilodalton (GRP78) is a molecular chaperone that exists in the endoplasmic reticulum and is involved in the assembly, transportation, and folding of proteins. Previously, GRP78 was reported to associate with gonadotropin receptors. However, little is known about how GRP78 is involved in the regulation of luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR). Thus, in this study, we investigated the significance of GRP78 for the induction of LHR in rat luteinizing granulosa cells. Western blot analysis of rat LHR expressed in HEK293 cells revealed that the protein levels of LHR were increased, depending on the increment of GRP78 protein. In both in vivo and in vitro experiments, the GRP78 mRNA level peaked while LHR mRNA was down-regulated by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). To examine the time-dependent localization of GRP78 in vivo, immunohistochemistry was performed. GRP78 was expressed mainly in granulosa cells, and the GRP78 protein peaked 18 h after the ovulatory dose of hCG injection in equine chorionic gonadotropin-primed immature rats. To ascertain the role of GRP78 in LHR after down-regulation, small interfering GRP78 was transfected to cultured rat granulosa cells, demonstrating that knockdown of the GRP78 protein level impaired the recovery of cell surface LHR from down-regulation that negatively affected progesterone synthesis. Moreover, luciferase assays showed that CRE mediated the hCG-induced promoter activity of GRP78 in rat luteinizing granulosa cells. These results reveal a novel mechanism of LHR by GRP78 in the early stage of corpus lustrum formation, which may be an important factor in the recovery of LHR after the down-regulation.
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Vol. 88 • No. 1