Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase gene organization and expression: a comparative analysis in rat, mouse, pig and human species

Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 1999 Apr;122(4):367-80. doi: 10.1016/s0305-0491(99)00013-9.


Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) is an enzyme located at the external surface of epithelial cells. It initiates extracellular glutathione (GSH) breakdown, provides cells with a local cysteine supply and contributes to maintain intracellular GSH level. GGT expression, highly sensitive to oxidative stress, is a part of the cell antioxidant defense mechanisms. We describe recent advances in GGT gene structure and expression knowledge and put emphasis on the complex transcriptional organization of that gene and its conservation among different species. GGT gene structure has been elucidated in rat and mouse where a single gene is transcribed from multiple promoters into several transcripts which finally yield a unique polypeptidic chain. Analysis of rat, mouse, human and pig cDNA and gene sequences reveals a large conservation of the transcriptional organization of that gene. This complex structure provides flexibility in GGT expression controlled at the promoter level, through multiple regulatory sites, and at RNA level by alternate 5' untranslated sequences which may create a diversity in the stability and translational efficiency of the different transcripts. In conclusion, transcription of the GGT gene from several promoters offers multiple DNA and RNA targets for various oxidative stimuli and contributes to a broad antioxidant cell defense through GGT induction and subsequent cysteine supply from extracellular glutathione.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Rats
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Swine
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / genetics*


  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase