Résumé : The TSH receptor (TSHR) and the LH/CG receptor (LHR) are members of the family of G protein-coupled receptors. Recently, point mutations conferring constitutive activity to the TSHR and LHR have been observed as a cause of toxic adenoma and familial/sporadic male pseudo-precocious puberty, respectively. When evaluated by transfection in COS-7 cells the wild-type (wt) TSHR displays definite constitutive activity towards Gs-dependent adenylylcyclase stimulation, while available evidence shows that the LHR does not. In order to compare the constitutive activity of both receptors, we performed functional studies in COS-7 cells using different assay conditions. Human TSHR and LHR cDNAs subcloned in the expression vector pSVL were transiently expressed in COS-7 cells and cAMP production was determined following incubation in a medium containing physiological concentration of NaCl [isotonic (NaCl)] or in the same medium without NaCl [hypotonic (NaCl-)] or where NaCl was replaced by an isoosmolar concentration of sucrose [isotonic (sucrose)]. Cells transfected with the TSHR showed higher basal cAMP levels over cells transfected with pSVL in all conditions tested. The effect was stronger when cells were incubated in isotonic (sucrose) buffer. Cells expressing LHR exhibited a minimal increase of cAMP levels over cells transfected with pSVL in isotonic (NaCl) buffer; however, a marked increase in basal cAMP levels was observed when cells were assayed in hypotonic (NaCl-) or isotonic (sucrose) buffers. Varying the pH or incubation temperature was without effect on the results obtained with both receptors. Our data show that despite extensive sequence similarity, the LH and TSH receptors differ markedly in their basal activity. The differential sensitivity of both receptors to low NaCl concentrations, suggests that the unliganded TSH receptor is less constrained than its LH homolog and may be more susceptible to activation by a wide spectrum of mutations.