Human hepatic glutathione S-transferase (GST) subunits were characterized and quantified with the aid of a recently developed h.p.l.c. method. In 20 hepatic tissue specimens the absolute amounts of the basic Class Alpha subunits B1 and B2, the near-neutral Class Mu subunits mu and psi and the acidic subunit pi were determined. The average total amount of GST was 37 micrograms/mg of cytosolic protein, with the Class Alpha GST being the predominant class (84% of total GSTs), and pi as the sole representative of the Class Pi GSTs present in the lowest concentration (4% of total GSTs). Large interindividual differences were observed for all subunits, with variations up to 27-fold, depending on the subunit. For the Class Alpha GST-subunits B1 and B2, a biphasic ratio was observed. The genetic polymorphism of the subunits mu and psi was confirmed by h.p.l.c. analysis, and correlated with the enzymic glutathione conjugation of trans-stilbene oxide and with Western blotting of cytosols, using a monoclonal anti-(Class Mu GST) antibody. Of the 20 livers examined, ten contained only mu, whereas the occurrence of psi alone, and the combination of mu and psi, were found in only one liver each.

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