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The enzymes of glutathione synthesis: gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase.

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Department of Biochemistry, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226, USA.


The metabolite glutathione fulfills many important and chemically complex roles in protecting cellular components from the deleterious effects of toxic species. GSH combines with hydroxyl radical, peroxynitrite, and hydroperoxides, as well as reactive electrophiles, including activated phosphoramide mustard. This thiol-containing reductant also maintains so-called thiol-enzymes in their catalytically active form, and maintains vitamins C and E in their biologically active forms. The key step in glutathione synthesis, namely the ATP-dependent synthesis of gamma-glutamylcysteine, is the topic of this review. Details are presented on (a) the enzyme's purification and protein chemistry, (b) the successful cDNA cloning, and characterization of the genes responsible for the biosynthesis of this enzyme. After considering aspects of the role of overexpression of this synthetase in terms of cancer chemotherapy, attention is focused on post-translational regulation. The remainder of the review deals with the catalytic mechanism (including substrate specificity, reactions catalyzed, steady-state kinetics, and chemical mechanism) as well as the inhibition of the enzyme (via feedback inhibition, reaction with S-alkyl homocysteine sulfoximine inhibitors, the clinical use of buthionine sulfoximine with cancer patients, and inactivation by cystamine, chloroketones, and various nitric oxide donors).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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