Molecular mechanisms of reduced glutathione transport: role of the MRP/CFTR/ABCC and OATP/SLC21A families of membrane proteins

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2005 May 1;204(3):238-55. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2004.09.008.


The initial step in reduced glutathione (GSH) turnover in all mammalian cells is its transport across the plasma membrane into the extracellular space; however, the mechanisms of GSH transport are not clearly defined. GSH export is required for the delivery of its constituent amino acids to other tissues, detoxification of drugs, metals, and other reactive compounds of both endogenous and exogenous origin, protection against oxidant stress, and secretion of hepatic bile. Recent studies indicate that some members of the multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP/CFTR or ABCC) family of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) proteins, as well as some members of the organic anion transporting polypeptide (OATP or SLC21A) family of transporters contribute to this process. In particular, five of the 12 members of the MRP/CFTR family appear to mediate GSH export from cells namely, MRP1, MRP2, MRP4, MRP5, and CFTR. Additionally, two members of the OATP family, rat Oatp1 and Oatp2, have been identified as GSH transporters. For the Oatp1 transporter, efflux of GSH may provide the driving force for the uptake of extracellular substrates. In humans, OATP-B and OATP8 do not appear to transport GSH; however, other members of this family have yet to be characterized in regards to GSH transport. In yeast, the ABC proteins Ycf1p and Bpt1p transport GSH from the cytosol into the vacuole, whereas Hgt1p mediates GSH uptake across the plasma membrane. Because transport is a key step in GSH homeostasis and is intimately linked to its biological functions, GSH export proteins are likely to modulate essential cellular functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / genetics
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / metabolism*
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / metabolism*
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Organic Anion Transporters / genetics
  • Organic Anion Transporters / metabolism*


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • CFTR protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Organic Anion Transporters
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator
  • Glutathione