Cloning, Expression, and Functional Characterization of Relaxin Receptor (Leucine-Rich Repeat-Containing G Protein-Coupled Receptor 7) Splice Variants from Human Fetal Membranes

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Abstract

The relaxin receptor [leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 7 (LGR7)] belongs to the leucine-rich repeat containing G protein-coupled receptors subgroup C. Three new LGR7 splice variants have been cloned from the human fetal membranes and shown to be truncated versions of the full-length receptor, encoded by different lengths of the extracellular domain. The expression of their mRNAs has been confirmed by both qualitative and quantitative PCR and shown to be higher in the chorion and decidua before, compared with after, spontaneous labor. When HEK293 cells were transfected with each LGR7 splice variant, their proteins were retained within the endoplasmic reticulum. However, the protein for the shortest variant was also secreted into the medium. We have characterized the intracellular functions and effects of these LGR7 variants on the function of the wild-type (WT)-LGR7. In coexpression studies, each splice variant interacted directly with the WT-LGR7 and exerted a dominant-negative effect on cAMP accumulation by the WT-LGR7 after relaxin treatment. This interaction resulted in the sequestration of the WT-LGR7 inside the cells by down-regulation of its maturation and cell surface delivery. The constitutive homodimerization of WT-LGR7 has been shown here to take place in the endoplasmic reticulum, and the presence of any one of the splice variants decreased this by the formation of heterodimers with the WT-LGR7, supporting the view that homodimerization is a prerequisite for receptor trafficking to the cell surface. These data suggest that the dominant-negative effects of the LGR7 splice variants expressed in the chorion and decidua could be functionally significant in the peripartal period by inhibiting the function of WT-LGR7 and dampening the responsiveness of these tissues to endogenous relaxin.

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