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Nature. 1992 Nov 19;360(6401):269-70.

Rat liver protein linking chemical and immunological detoxification systems.

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  • 1Gray Freshwater Biological Institute, Navarre, Minnesota.


Mammals have separate enzymatic and cellularly mediated detoxification systems. Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) protect against xenobiotic chemicals which continuously enter the body, largely through mucous membranes. These enzymes catalyse the conjugation of glutathione with a wide variety of electrophilic compounds rendering them non-toxic. Mammals also mount a cellular immunological response on entry of foreign cells, viruses or macromolecules into the body. T lymphocytes mobilize at the site of foreign body entry and secrete protein messengers called lymphokines. Secondary to T lymphocytes, macrophages concentrate at the infection site and function in antigen processing and phagocytosis. In vitro, macrophage movement is arrested by one class of lymphokines known as macrophage migration inhibitory factors (MIFs). We report here the purification of milligram quantities of a unique multifunctional protein from rat liver which links enzymatic and immunological detoxification systems. This protein actuates both GST and MIF activity and matches the primary structure of a human MIF in 25 out of 26 amino-terminal amino acids. Primary structure comparisons revealed significant similarity between GSTs and MIF. The glutathione affinity chromatography purification described here yields a 100-fold increase in obtaining MIF and will aid understanding of its precise biological function.

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