Secretion of hCG-α subunit and hCG by HeLa strains


IN recent letters1,2, we have independently reported seemingly different secretion patterns of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and its alpha (hCG-α) and beta (hCG-β) subunits by certain HeLa strains. These letters were further discussed in an article in News and Views3. Ghosh and Cox1 found that HeLa 65 and HeLa 71 secreted a product with activity in an ‘hCG-β’ immunoassay (detecting hCG and/or hCG-β), and that this secretion was greatly stimulated by butyrate; hCG-α was not measured. Lieblich et al.2 reported that HeLa CCL 2, 2.1 and 2.2 secreted very large quantities of hCG-α but no detectable amounts of hCG or hCG-β (<0.2 ng ml−1). Two questions were raised : what was the nature of the immunoactive material in the hCG-β assay, and could the differences between the two laboratories be attributed to the known variability among HeLa strains? We have collaborated in an attempt to answer these questions, and we confirmed strain differences in hCG-α secretion in HeLa cells.

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  1. 1

    Ghosh, N. K. & Cox, R. P. Nature, 259, 416–417 (1976).

  2. 2

    Lieblich, J. M., Weintraub, B. D., Rosen, S. W., Chou, J. Y. & Robinson, J. C. Nature 260, 530–532 (1976).

  3. 3

    Ectopic Production of HCG Subunits, Nature 260, 480–481 (1976).

  4. 4

    Lieblich, J. M. et al. J. natn. Cancer Inst. 56, 911–917 (1976).

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LIEBLICH, J., WEINTRAUB, B., ROSEN, S. et al. Secretion of hCG-α subunit and hCG by HeLa strains. Nature 265, 746 (1977).

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