Gamma-glutamyl compounds: substrate specificity of gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase enzymes

Anal Biochem. 2011 Jul 15;414(2):208-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2011.03.026. Epub 2011 Mar 27.


Gamma-glutamyl compounds include antioxidants, inflammatory molecules, drug metabolites, and neuroactive compounds. Two cell surface enzymes that metabolize gamma-glutamyl compounds have been identified: gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT1) and gamma-glutamyl leukotrienase (GGT5). There is controversy in the literature regarding the substrate specificity of these enzymes. To address this issue, we have developed a method for comprehensive kinetic analysis of compounds as substrates for GGT enzymes. Our assay is sensitive, quantitative, and conducted at physiological pH. We evaluated a series of gamma-glutamyl compounds as substrates for human GGT1 and human GGT5. The K(m) value for reduced glutathione was 11μM for both GGT1 and GGT5. However, the K(m) values for oxidized glutathione were 9μM for GGT1 and 43μM for GGT5. Our data show that the K(m) values for leukotriene C(4) are equivalent for GGT1 and GGT5 at 10.8 and 10.2μM, respectively. This assay was also used to evaluate serine-borate, a well-known inhibitor of GGT1, which was 8-fold more potent in inhibiting GGT1 than in inhibiting GGT5. These data provide essential information regarding the target enzymes for developing treatments for inflammatory diseases such as asthma and cardiovascular disease in humans. This assay is invaluable for studies of oxidative stress, drug metabolism, and other pathways that involve gamma-glutamyl compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dipeptidases / metabolism
  • Enzyme Assays / methods*
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Glutathione / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Leukotriene C4 / chemistry
  • Substrate Specificity
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / metabolism*


  • Leukotriene C4
  • Glutamic Acid
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Dipeptidases
  • gamma-glutamyl leukotrienase
  • Glutathione