Calcitonin contains an amino acid sequence that provides a potential site for glycosylation of the peptide at the asparagine at position 3. Preliminary evidence has suggested that there are glycosylated forms of calcitonin and its precursor, procalcitonin. The CA-77 rat medullary thyroid carcinoma cell line, recently developed to study calcitonin biosynthesis, was used to demonstrate the synthesis of glycosylated forms of this hormone by intact cells. Cultures were incubated in medium containing either [3H]mannose or [35S]methionine. Two species incorporating both labels were specifically immunoprecipitated when cell extracts were treated with calcitonin antibodies. Gel filtration chromatography in 6 M guanidine hydrochloride indicated that one peptide had a molecular weight of 5500, approximately 2000 daltons larger than calcitonin, while the second peptide had a molecular weight of 14400, the approximate size of procalcitonin. Treatment of the [3H]mannose-labeled cell extract with endo-β-N-acetylglucosaminidase H before immunoprecipitation removed the labeled sugar from the calcitonin species. Microsequence analysis of the radiolabeled immunoreactive 5500-dalton calcitonin species showed methionine at cycle 8 and mannose at cycle 3, suggesting that this peptide is calcitonin containing an N-linked oligosaccharide at Asn-3. These results suggest that in this cell line a minor but significant biosynthetic pathway exists for the production of glycosylated calcitonin from glycosylated procalcitonin.
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