Genetic and epigenetic regulation and expression signatures of glutathione S-transferases in developing mouse liver

Toxicol Sci. 2010 Jul;116(1):32-43. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfq115. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


The hepatic glutathione S-transferases (Gsts) are critical phase II enzymes in protecting cellular macromolecules against electrophiles and oxidative stress. Little is known about the ontogeny of Gsts and the underlying regulatory mechanisms during liver development. Therefore, in this study, the ontogeny and the regulatory mechanisms of 19 known Gst isoforms were investigated in mouse liver from 2 days before birth to postnatal day 45. With the exception of Gstm5 and MGst2 that showed a progressive decline in postnatal messenger RNA (mRNA) expression, most other Gst isoforms showed a progressive increase in postnatal mRNA expression. Two-way hierarchical clustering revealed three distinct expression patterns of these Gsts isoforms: perinatal, adolescent, and adult enriched. The expression signatures of certain Gst isoforms showed positive association with the ontogeny of critical xenobiotic-sensing transcription factors, including aryl hydrocarbon receptor, pregnane X receptor (PXR), constitutive androstane receptor, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha, and NF-E2-related factor-2. Specifically, genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with the next generation sequencing technology (ChIP-Seq) revealed direct PXR-binding sites to the Gsta, Gstm, Gstt, and Gstp polycistron clusters as well as to the Mgst1 gene locus. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-on-chip analysis demonstrated that DNA methylation and histone H3K27-trimethylation (H3K27me3), two-gene expression-suppressing epigenetic marks, were consistently low around the Gstz1 gene locus. In contrast, enrichment of histone H3K4-dimethylation (H3K4me2), a hallmark for gene activation, increased 60% around the Gstz1 gene locus from prenatal to the young adult period. Regression analysis revealed a strong correlation between the enrichment of H3K4me2 and Gstz1 mRNA expression (r = 0.76). In conclusion, this study characterized three distinct ontogenic expression signatures of the 19 Gst isoforms and examined some genetic and epigenetic mechanisms inducing their transcription during liver development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics*
  • Liver / embryology
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Liver / growth & development
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Glutathione Transferase