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Planta. 1990 Mar;180(4):603-12. doi: 10.1007/BF02411460.

λ-Glutamylcysteine synthetase in higher plants: catalytic properties and subcellular localization.

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Botanisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Gyrhofstrasse 15, D-5000, Köln 41, Germany.


λ-Glutamylcysteine synthetase activity (EC was analysed in Sephacryl S-200 eluents of extracts from cell suspension cultures ofNicotiana tabacum L. cv. Samsun by determination of λ-glutamylcysteine as its monobromobimane derivative. The enzyme has a relative molecular mass (Mr) of 60000 and exhibits maximal activity at pH 8 (50% at pH 7.0 and pH9.0) and an absolute requirement for Mg(2+). With 0.2mM Cd(2+) or Zn(2+), enzyme activity was reduced by 35% and 19%, respectively. Treatment with 5 mM dithioerythritol led to a heavy loss of activity and to dissociation into subunits (Mr 34000). Buthionine sulfoximine andL-methionine-sulfoximine, known as potent inhibitors of λ-glutamylcysteine synthetase from mammalian cells, were found to be effective inhibitors of the plant enzyme too. The apparent Km values forL-glutamate,L-cysteine, and α-aminobutyrate were, respectively, 10.4mM, 0.19 mM, and 6.36 mM. The enzyme was completely inhibited by glutathione (Ki=0.42 mM). The data indicate that the rate of glutathione synthesis in vivo may be influenced substantially by the concentration of cysteine and glutamate and may be further regulated by feedback inhibition of λ-glutamylcysteine synthetase by glutathione itself. λ-Glutamylcysteine synthetase is, like glutathione synthetase, localized in chloroplasts as well as in the cytoplasm. Chloroplasts fromPisum sativum L. isolated on a Percoll gradient contained about 72% of the λ-glutamylcysteine synthetase activity in leaf cells and 48% of the total glutathione synthetase activity. In chloroplasts ofSpinacia oleracea L. about 61% of the total λ-glutamylcysteine synthetase activity of the cells were found and 58% of the total glutathione synthetase activity. These results indicate that glutathione synthesis can take place in at least two compartments of the plant cell.


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