A sequence encoding a novel glutathione transferase, GST A4-4, has been identified in a human fetal brain cDNA library. The protein has been produced in Escherichia coli after optimization of the codon usage for high-level heterologous expression. The dimeric protein has a subunit molecular mass of 25704 Da based on the deduced amino acid composition. Human GST A4-4 is a member of the Alpha class but shows only 53% amino acid sequence identity with the major liver enzyme GST A1-1. High catalytic efficiency with 4-hydroxyalkenals and other cytotoxic and mutagenic products of radical reactions and lipid peroxidation is a significant feature of GST A4-4. The kcat/Km values for 4-hydroxynonenal and 4-hydroxydecenal are > 3×106 M-1·s-1, several orders of magnitude higher than the values for conventional GST substrates. 4-Hydroxynonenal and other reactive electrophiles produced by oxidative metabolism have been linked to aging, atherosclerosis, cataract formation, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, as well as other degenerative human conditions, suggesting that human GST A4-4 fulfills an important protective role and that variations in its expression may have significant pathophysiological consequences.

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