A novel hepatic enzyme, glutathione S-transferase K, is described that, unlike previously characterized transferases, possesses little affinity for S-hexylglutathione-Sepharose 6B but can be isolated because it binds to a glutathione affinity matrix. A purification scheme for this new enzyme was devised, with the use of DEAE-cellulose, S-hexylglutathione-Sepharose 6B, glutathione-Sepharose 6B and hydroxyapatite chromatography. The final hydroxyapatite step results in the elution of three chromatographically interconvertible forms, K1, K2 and K3. The purified protein has an isoelectric point of 6.1 and comprises subunits that are designated Yk (Mr 25,000); during sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis, it migrates marginally faster than the Ya subunit but slower than the pulmonary Yf monomer (Mr 24,500). Transferase K displays catalytic, immunochemical and physical properties that are distinct from those of other liver transferases. Tryptic peptide maps suggest that transferase K is a homodimer, or comprises closely homologous subunits. The tryptic fingerprints also demonstrate that, although transferase K is structurally separate from previously described hepatic forms, a limited sequence homology exists between the Yk, Ya and Yc polypeptides. These structural data are in accord with the immunochemical results presented in the accompanying paper [Hayes & Mantle (1986) Biochem. J. 233, 779-788].

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