Human UGT1A6 pharmacogenetics: identification of a novel SNP, characterization of allele frequencies and functional analysis of recombinant allozymes in human liver tissue and in cultured cells

Pharmacogenetics. 2004 Aug;14(8):487-99. doi: 10.1097/01.fpc.0000114771.78957.cb.


Background: UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzymes catalyze the glucuronidation and typically inactivation of endogenous and exogenous molecules including steroid hormones, bilirubin and many drugs. The UGT1A6 protein is expressed predominantly in liver and metabolizes small phenolic drugs including acetaminophen, salicylates and many beta-blockers. Interindividual variation in the capacity of humans to glucuronidate drugs has been observed.

Results: We have identified a novel common single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the human UGT1A6 gene resulting in a Ser7Ala change in encoded amino acid. We have further functionally characterized that polymorphism in the context of two previously reported polymorphisms, Thr181Ala and Arg184Ser. These non-synonymous cSNPs define four common haplotypes. Alleles appear with similar frequencies in Caucasian and African-American populations with distributions adhering to Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. UGT1A6 genotype, rate of substrate glucuronidation and level of immunoreactive UGT1A6 protein was determined. A 25-fold variation in the rate of substrate glucuronidation and an 85-fold variation in level of immunoreactive protein were measured. Liver tissue samples that were homozygous for UGT1A6*2 exhibited a high rate of glucuronidation relative to tissues with other genotypes. Biochemical kinetic studies of recombinant UGT1A6 expressed in HEK293 cells indicated that the UGT1A6*2 allozyme, expressed homozygously, had almost two-fold greater activity toward p-nitrophenol than UGT1A6*1 and when expressed heterozygously (UGT1A6*1/*2) it was associated with low enzyme activity.

Conclusions: These data suggest that common genetic variation in human UGT1A6 confers functionally significant differences in biochemical phenotype as assessed in human tissue and cultured cells expressing recombinant allozymes. This genetic variation might impact clinical efficacy or toxicity of drugs metabolized by UGT1A6.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colonic Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / secondary
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Glucuronates / metabolism
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes
  • Liver Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology*
  • Nitrophenols / metabolism
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics*
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics


  • Glucuronates
  • Isoenzymes
  • Nitrophenols
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • UDP-glucuronosyltransferase, UGT1A6
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • 4-nitrophenol