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Biochem J. 1999 Mar 15;338 ( Pt 3):659-65.

Pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate up-regulates the expression of the genes encoding the catalytic and regulatory subunits of gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase and increases intracellular glutathione levels.

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  • 1Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, 600 Highland Avenue, K4/316 CSC, Madison, WI 53792, USA.


Time- and dose-dependent increases in the steady-state mRNA levels of the genes encoding the catalytic and regulatory subunits of the enzyme gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase (GCS) were observed in HepG2 human hepatocarcinoma cells after exposure to pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC). PDTC was demonstrated to manifest both antioxidant and pro-oxidant properties in HepG2 cells, as assessed by the decreased fluorescence of the redox-sensitive dye Dihydrorhodamine 123 and by the oxidation of glutathione respectively. Attempts to characterize the signalling pathway from PDTC exposure to increases in the expression of the GCS catalytic and regulatory subunit genes demonstrated that induction by PDTC could be partially blocked by treatment with the thiol agent N-acetylcysteine and by the copper chelator bathocuproine disulphonic acid. These findings suggested that the up-regulation of the two genes resulted from a PDTC-induced pro-oxidant signal, which was partially copper-dependent. In summary, these studies demonstrate that PDTC exposure elicits a cellular response in HepG2 cells, characterized by the induction of the genes encoding the two subunits of the enzyme GCS and increased de novo synthesis of the cellular protectant GSH.

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