Polymorphisms of N-acetyltransferases, glutathione S-transferases, microsomal epoxide hydrolase and sulfotransferases: influence on cancer susceptibility

Recent Results Cancer Res. 1998;154:47-85. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-46870-4_4.


It has become clear that several polymorphisms of human drug-metabolizing enzymes influence an individual's susceptibility for chemical carcinogenesis. This review gives an overview on relevant polymorphisms of four families of drug-metabolizing enzymes. Rapid acetylators (with respect to N-acetyltransferase NAT2) were shown to have an increased risk of colon cancer, but a decreased risk of bladder cancer. In addition an association between a NAT1 variant allele (NAT*10, due to mutations in the polyadenylation site causing approximately two fold higher activity) and colorectal cancer among NAT2 rapid acetylators was observed, suggesting a possible interaction between NAT1 and NAT2. Glutathione S-transferases M1 and T1 (GSTM1 and GSTT1) are polymorphic due to large deletions in the structural gene. Meta-analysis of 12 case-control studies demonstrated a significant association between the homozygous deletion of GSTM1 (GSTM1-0) and lung cancer (odds ratio: 1.41; 95% CI: 1.23-1.61). Combination of GSTM1-0 with two allelic variants of cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1), CYP1A1 m2/m2 and CYP1A1 Val/Val further increases the risk for lung cancer. Indirect mechanisms by which deletion of GSTM1 increases risk for lung cancer may include GSTM1-0 associated decreased expression of GST M3 and increased activity of CYP1A1 and 1A2. Combination of GST M1-0 and NAT2 slow acetylation was associated with markedly increased risk for lung cancer (odds ratio: 7.8; 95% CI: 1.4-78.7). In addition GSTM1-0 is clearly associated with bladder cancer and possibly also with colorectal, hepatocellular, gastric, esophageal (interaction with CYP1A1), head and neck as well as cutaneous cancer. In individuals with the GSTT1-0 genotype more chromosomal aberrations and sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) were observed after exposure to 1,3-butadiene or various haloalkanes or haloalkenes. Evidence for an association between GSTT1-0 and myelodysplastic syndrome and acute lymphoblastic leukemia has been presented. A polymorphic site of GSTP1 (valine to isoleucine at codon 104) decreases activity to several carcinogenic diol epoxides and was associated with testicular, bladder and lung cancer. Microsomal expoxide hydrolase (mEH) is polymorphic due to amino acid variation at residues 113 and 139. Polymorphic variants of mEH were associated with hepatocellular cancer (His-113 allele), ovarian cancer (Tyr-113 allele) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (His-113 allele). Three human sulfotransferases (STs) are regulated by genetic polymorphisms (hDHEAST, hM-PST, TS PST). Since a large number of environmental mutagens are activated by STs an association with human cancer risk might be expected.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase / genetics*
  • Epoxide Hydrolases / genetics*
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Microsomes / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Sulfotransferases / genetics*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / etiology


  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Sulfotransferases
  • Epoxide Hydrolases