Objective: UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 2B7 (UGT2B7) plays a central role in the liver-mediated biotransformation of endogenous and exogenous compounds. The genetic basis of interindividual variability in UGT2B7 function is unknown. This study aimed to discover novel gene variants of functional significance.
Methods: Caucasian human livers (n=54) were used. UGT2B7 was resequenced in 12 samples [(six highest and six lowest for the formation of morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G)]. Haplotype-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms were genotyped in the entire sample set. Samples were phenotyped for mRNA expression.
Results: 10 haplotype-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms were identified and their haplotypes were inferred. Haplotype 4 (-45597G; -6682_-6683A; 372A; IVS1+9_IVS1+10A; IVS1+829T; IVS1+985G; IVS1+999C; IVS1+1250G; 801T; IVS4+185C) (frequency of 0.12) was associated with an increase in enzyme activity and gene expression. The 1/4 and 4/6 diplotypes had higher M3G formation compared with 1/1 (P<0.05) and 2/3 (P<0.01) diplotypes. Diplotypes containing haplotype 4 resulted in a significant 45% average increase in the formation of M3G compared with diplotypes without haplotype 4 (P=0.002). There was also an association between haplotype 4 and increased mRNA expression. IVS1+985A>G, 735A>G, and 1062C>T are the putative functional variants of haplotype 4. We also identified two mRNA splicing variants (UGT2B7_v2 and UGT2B7_v3) splicing out exon 1, 4, 5, and 6 but sharing exons 2 and 3 with the involvement of additional 5' exons. UGT2B7_v2 was detected in all livers tested, but UGT2B7_v3 was present at much lower levels compared with UGT2B7_v2. The UGT2B7 reference sequence mRNA is now named UGT2B7_v1.
Conclusion: UGT2B7 haplotype 4 is functional and its effects on the biotransformation of UGT2B7 substrates should be tested in controlled clinical trials. Biochemical studies should investigate the functional role of the newly discovered mRNA splicing variants.