Glutathione transferases--structure and catalytic activity

CRC Crit Rev Biochem. 1988;23(3):283-337. doi: 10.3109/10409238809088226.


The glutathione transferases are recognized as important catalysts in the biotransformation of xenobiotics, including drugs as well as environmental pollutants. Multiple forms exist, and numerous transferases from mammalian tissues, insects, and plants have been isolated and characterized. Enzymatic properties, reactions with antibodies, and structural characteristics have been used for classification of the glutathione transferases. The cytosolic mammalian enzymes could be grouped into three distinct classes--Alpha, Mu, and Pi; the microsomal glutathione transferase differs greatly from all the cytosolic enzymes. Members of each enzyme class have been identified in human, rat, and mouse tissues. Comparison of known primary structures of representatives of each class suggests a divergent evolution of the enzyme proteins from a common precursor. Products of oxidative metabolism such as organic hydroperoxides, epoxides, quinones, and activated alkenes are possible "natural" substrates for the glutathione transferases. Particularly noteworthy are 4-hydroxyalkenals, which are among the best substrates found. Homologous series of substrates give information about the properties of the corresponding binding site. The catalytic mechanism and the active-site topology have been probed also by use of chiral substrates. Steady-state kinetics have provided evidence for a "sequential" mechanism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Glutathione Transferase* / metabolism
  • Humans


  • Glutathione Transferase