Inhibin α-subunit N terminus interacts with activin type IB receptor to disrupt activin signaling

Jie Zhu, S. Jack Lin, Chao Zou, Yogeshwar Makanji, Theodore S. Jardetzky, Teresa K. Woodruff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Inhibin is a heterodimeric peptide hormone produced in the ovary that antagonizes activin signaling and FSH synthesis in the pituitary. The inhibin β-subunit interacts with the activin type II receptor (ActRII) to functionally antagonize activin. The inhibin α-subunit mature domain (N terminus) arose relatively early during the evolution of the hormone, and inhibin function is decreased by an antibody directed against the α-subunit N-terminal extension region or by deletion of the N-terminal region.We hypothesized that the α-subunit N-terminal extension region interacts with the activin type I receptor (ALK4) to antagonize activin signaling in the pituitary. Human or chicken free α-subunit inhibited activin signaling in a pituitary gonadotropederived cell line (LβT2) in a dose-dependent manner, whereas an N-terminal extension deletion mutant did not. An α-subunit N-terminal peptide, but not a control peptide, was able to inhibit activin A signaling and decrease activin-stimulated FSH synthesis. Biotinylated inhibin A, but not activin A, bound ALK4. Soluble ALK4-ECD bioneutralized human free α-subunit in LβT2 cells, but did not affect activin A function. Competitive binding ELISAs with N-terminal mutants and an N-terminal region peptide confirmed that this region is critical for direct interaction of the α-subunit with ALK4. These data expand our understanding of how endocrine inhibin achieves potent antagonism of local, constitutive activin action in the pituitary, through a combined mechanism of competitive binding of both ActRII and ALK4 by each subunit of the inhibin heterodimer, in conjunction with the co-receptor betaglycan, to block activin receptor-ligand binding, complex assembly, and downstream signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8060-8070
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 9 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibin α-subunit N terminus interacts with activin type IB receptor to disrupt activin signaling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this