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Biochem J. 1991 Feb 1;273 ( Pt 3):711-7.

The potency of inducers of NAD(P)H:(quinone-acceptor) oxidoreductase parallels their efficiency as substrates for glutathione transferases. Structural and electronic correlations.

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Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205.


Induction of glutathione transferases (EC., NAD(P)H:(quinone-acceptor) oxidoreductase (EC; quinone reductase) and other detoxification enzymes is a major mechanism for protecting cells against the toxicities of electrophiles, including many carcinogens. Although inducers of these two enzymes belong to many different chemical classes, they nevertheless contain (or acquire by metabolism) electrophilic centres that appear to be essential for inclusive activity, and many inducers are Michael reaction acceptors [Talalay, De Long & Prochaska (1988) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 85, 8261-8265]. The inducers therefore share structural and electronic features with glutathione transferase substrates. To define these features more precisely, we examined the inductive potencies (by measuring quinone reductase in murine hepatoma cells) of two types of glutathione transferase substrates: a series of 1-chloro-2-nitrobenzenes bearing para-oriented electron-donating or -withdrawing substituents and a wide variety of other commonly used and structurally unrelated glutathione transferase substrates. We conclude that virtually all glutathione transferase substrates are inducers, and their potencies in the nitrobenzene series correlate linearly with the Hammett sigma or sigma- values of the aromatic substituents, precisely as previously reported for their efficiencies as glutathione transferase substrates. More detailed information on the electronic requirements for inductive activity was obtained with a series of methyl trans-cinnamates bearing electron-withdrawing or -donating substituents on the aromatic ring, and in which the electronic densities at the olefinic and adjacent carbon atoms were measured by 13C n.m.r. Electron-withdrawing meta-substituents markedly enhance inductive potency in parallel with their increased non-enzymic reactivity with GSH. Thus, methyl 3-bromo-, 3-nitro- and 3-chloro-cinnamates are 21, 14 and 8 times more potent inducers than the parent methyl cinnamate. This finding permits the design of more potent inducers, which are important for elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of induction.

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