The polymorphic human glutathione transferase T1-1, the most efficient glutathione transferase in the denitrosation and inactivation of the anticancer drug 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea

Biochem Pharmacol. 2002 Jan 15;63(2):191-7. doi: 10.1016/s0006-2952(01)00846-2.


A member of the Theta class of human glutathione transferases (GST T1-1) was found to display the greatest catalytic activity towards the cytostatic drug 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU) of the GSTs studied. In this investigation (the most extensive to date), enzymes from four classes of the soluble human GSTs were heterologously expressed, purified, and kinetically characterized. From the 12 enzymes examined, only GST M2-2, GST M3-3 and GST T1-1 had significant activities with BCNU. This establishes that the activity is not a characteristic of a particular class of GSTs. Although GST M3-3 was previously reported to have the greatest activity with BCNU, the current investigation demonstrates that GST M2-2 is equally active and that GST T1-1 has an approximately 20-fold higher specific activity than either of the Mu class enzymes. A more rigorous kinetic analysis of GST T1-1 gave the following parameters with BCNU: a k(cat) of 0.035 +/-0.003s(-1) and a K(M) of 1.0 +/- 0.1mM. The finding that GST T1-1 has the highest activity towards BCNU is significant since GST T1-1 is expressed in the brain, a common target for BCNU treatment. Furthermore, the existence of a GST T1-1 null allele in up to 60% in some populations, may influence both the sensitivity of tumors to chemotherapy and the severity of adverse side-effects in patients treated with this agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism*
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Carmustine / metabolism*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Glutathione Transferase / chemistry
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic


  • Amino Acids
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • glutathione S-transferase T1
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Carmustine