Nuclear glutathione

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 May;1830(5):3304-16. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2012.10.005. Epub 2012 Oct 13.


Glutathione (GSH) is a linchpin of cellular defences in plants and animals with physiologically-important roles in the protection of cells from biotic and abiotic stresses. Moreover, glutathione participates in numerous metabolic and cell signalling processes including protein synthesis and amino acid transport, DNA repair and the control of cell division and cell suicide programmes. While it is has long been appreciated that cellular glutathione homeostasis is regulated by factors such as synthesis, degradation, transport, and redox turnover, relatively little attention has been paid to the influence of the intracellular partitioning on glutathione and its implications for the regulation of cell functions and signalling. We focus here on the functions of glutathione in the nucleus, particularly in relation to physiological processes such as the cell cycle and cell death. The sequestration of GSH in the nucleus of proliferating animal and plant cells suggests that common redox mechanisms exist for DNA regulation in G1 and mitosis in all eukaryotes. We propose that glutathione acts as "redox sensor" at the onset of DNA synthesis with roles in maintaining the nuclear architecture by providing the appropriate redox environment for the DNA replication and safeguarding DNA integrity. In addition, nuclear GSH may be involved in epigenetic phenomena and in the control of nuclear protein degradation by nuclear proteasome. Moreover, by increasing the nuclear GSH pool and reducing disulfide bonds on nuclear proteins at the onset of cell proliferation, an appropriate redox environment is generated for the stimulation of chromatin decompaction. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Cellular functions of glutathione.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Cell Growth Processes / physiology
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • DNA Replication
  • Glutathione / genetics
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism


  • Plant Proteins
  • Glutathione