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J Biol Chem. 2000 Apr 28;275(17):13000-6.

Structural organization of the microsomal glutathione S-transferase gene (MGST1) on chromosome 12p13.1-13.2. Identification of the correct promoter region and demonstration of transcriptional regulation in response to oxidative stress.

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Department of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, California 92103-8320, USA.


The structure and regulation of the microsomal glutathione S-transferase gene (MGST1) are considerably more complex than originally perceived to be. The MGST1 gene has two alternative first exons and is located in the 12p13.1-13.2 region. Two other potential first exons were determined to be nonfunctional. The region between the functional first exons cannot direct transcription. Thus, one common promoter element directing transcription exists, and RNA splicing occurs such that only one of the first exons (containing only untranslated mRNA) is incorporated into each mRNA species with common downstream exons. MGST1 expression and regulation are therefore similar to those of other hepatic xenobiotic handling enzymes, which also produce mRNA species differing only in the 5'-untranslated regions to yield identical proteins. MGST1 was previously considered a "housekeeping" gene, as non-oxidant inducers had little effect on activity. However, the promoter region immediately upstream of the dominant first exon transcriptionally responds to oxidative stress. In this respect, MGST1 is similar to glutathione peroxidases that also transcriptionally respond to oxidative stress. The discovery that MGST1 utilizes alternative first exon splicing eliminates a problem with the first description of MGST1 cDNA in that it appeared that MGST1 expression was in violation of the ribosomal scanning model. The identification that the first exon originally noted is in fact a minor alternative first exon far downstream of the primary first exon eliminates this conundrum.

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