The pituitary hormone thyrotropin, or thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), is the main physiological agent that regulates the thyroid gland. The thyrotropin receptor (TSHR) was cloned by selective amplification with the polymerase chain reaction of DNA segments presenting sequence similarity with genes for G protein-coupled receptors. Out of 11 new putative receptor clones obtained from genomic DNA, one had sequence characteristics different from all the others. Although this clone did not hybridize to thyroid transcripts, screening of a dog thyroid complementary DNA (cDNA) library at moderate stringency identified a cDNA encoding a 4.9-kilobase thyroid-specific transcript. The polypeptide encoded by this thyroid-specific transcript consisted of a 398-amino acid residue amino-terminal segment, constituting a putative extracellular domain, connected to a 346-residue carboxyl-terminal domain that contained seven putative transmembrane segments. Expression of the cDNA conferred TSH responsiveness to Xenopus oocytes and Y1 cells and a TSH binding phenotype to COS cells. The TSHR and the receptor for luteinizing hormone-choriogonadotropin constitute a subfamily of G protein-coupled receptors with distinct sequence characteristics.

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