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FASEB J. 1994 Feb;8(2):174-81.

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase: a "housekeeping" enzyme subject to tissue-specific regulation by hormones, nutrients, and oxidant stress.

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  • 1Upjohn Laboratories, Upjohn Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001.


The enzyme, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH, EC1.1.1.49), has long been considered and studied as the archetypical X-linked "housekeeping" enzyme that is present in all cells, where it plays the key role in regulating carbon flow through the pentose phosphate pathway. Specifically, the enzyme catalyzes the first reaction in the pathway leading to the production of pentose phosphates and reducing power in the form of NADPH for reductive biosynthesis and maintenance of the redox state of the cell. It was in this latter function that the crucial importance of the enzyme was first appreciated with the description of the human deficiency syndrome. While the gene can be considered to be a constitutively expressed "housekeeping" gene in many tissues, there are several other tissues (liver, adipose, lung, and proliferating cells) wherein modulation of cellular G6PDH activity represents an important component of the integrated response to external stimuli (hormones, growth factors, nutrients, and oxidant stress). In this regard, adaptive regulation of G6PDH has been found to be exerted at transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels. However, the regulation observed is tissue-specific, which elicits the central question of this review, "How can the G6PDH gene be constitutively expressed in some tissues while displaying adaptive regulation in others when there exists a single transcription unit for the gene?" Future studies utilizing cloned genomic fragments of the human and other mammalian G6PDH genes should provide answers to this question.

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