Effect of polymorphism in the human glutathione S-transferase A1 promoter on hepatic GSTA1 and GSTA2 expression

Pharmacogenetics. 2001 Nov;11(8):663-9. doi: 10.1097/00008571-200111000-00004.


The patterns of expression of glutathione S-transferases A1 and A2 in human liver (hGSTA1 and hGSTA2, respectively) are highly variable, notably in the ratio of hGSTA1/hGSTA2. We investigated if this variation had a genetic basis by sequencing the proximal promoters (-721 to -1 nucleotides) of hGSTA1 and hGSTA2, using 55 samples of human liver that exemplified the variability of hGSTA1 and hGSTA2 expression. Variants were found in the hGSTA1 gene: -631T or G, -567T, -69C, -52G, designated as hGSTA1*A; and -631G, -567G, -69T, -52A, designated as hGSTA1*B. Genotyping for the substitution -69C > T by polymerase chain reaction restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP), showed that the polymorphism was widespread in Caucasians, African-Americans and Hispanics, and that it appeared to conform to allelic variation. Constructs consisting of the proximal promoters of hGSTA1*A, hGSTA1*B or hGSTA2, with luciferase as a reporter gene, showed differential expression when transfected into HepG2 cells: hGSTA1*A approximately hGSTA2 > hGSTA1*B. Similarly, mean levels of hGSTA1 protein expression in liver cytosols decreased significantly according to genotype: hGSTA1*A > hGSTA1-heterozygous > hGSTA1*B. Conversely, mean hGSTA2 expression increased according to the same order of hGSTA1 genotype. Consequently, the ratio of GSTA1/GSTA2 was highly hGSTA1 allele-specific. Because the polymorphism in hGSTA1 correlates with hGSTA1 and hGSTA2 expression in liver, and hGSTA1-1 and hGSTA2-2 exhibit differential catalysis of the detoxification of carcinogen metabolites and chemotherapeutics, the polymorphism is expected to be of significance for individual risk of cancer or individual response to chemotherapeutic agents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Glutathione Transferase / biosynthesis*
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics*
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / biosynthesis*
  • Isoenzymes / genetics*
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • Transfection


  • Isoenzymes
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • glutathione S-transferase alpha