The class Kappa family of glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) currently comprises a single rat subunit (rGSTK1), originally isolated from the matrix of liver mitochondria [Harris, Meyer, Coles and Ketterer (1991) Biochem. J. 278, 137–141; Pemble, Wardle and Taylor (1996) Biochem. J. 319, 749–754]. In the present study, an expressed sequence tag (EST) clone has been identified which encodes a mouse class Kappa GST (designated mGSTK1). The EST clone contains an open reading frame of 678 bp, encoding a protein composed of 226 amino acid residues with 86% sequence identity with the rGSTK1 polypeptide. The mGSTK1 and rGSTK1 proteins have been heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli and purified by affinity chromatography. Both mouse and rat transferases were found to exhibit GSH-conjugating and GSH-peroxidase activities towards model substrates. Analysis of expression levels in a range of mouse and rat tissues revealed that the mRNA encoding these enzymes is expressed predominantly in heart, kidney, liver and skeletal muscle. Although other soluble GST isoenzymes are believed to reside primarily within the cytosol, subcellular fractionation of mouse liver demonstrates that this novel murine class Kappa GST is associated with mitochondrial fractions. Through the use of bioinformatics, the genes encoding the mouse and rat class Kappa GSTs have been identified. Both genes comprise eight exons, the protein coding region of which spans approx. 4.3 kb and 4.1 kb of DNA for mGSTK1 and rGSTK1 respectively. This conservation in primary structure, catalytic properties, tissue-specific expression, subcellular localization and gene structure between mouse and rat class Kappa GSTs indicates that they perform similar physiological functions. Furthermore, the association of these enzymes with mitochondrial fractions is consistent with them performing a specific conserved biological role within this organelle.

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