Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) constitute an important class of phase II (de)toxifying enzymes, catalysing the conjugation of glutathione (GSH) with electrophilic compounds. In the present study, Km, kcat and kcat/Km values for the rat GST 1-1-, 3-3-, 4-4- and 7-7-catalysed conjugation reactions between GSH and a series of 10 different 2-substituted 1-chloro-4-nitrobenzenes, and the second-order rate constants (ks) of the corresponding base-catalysed reactions, were correlated with nine classical physicochemical parameters (electronic, steric and lipophilic) of the substituents and with 16 computer-calculated molecular parameters of the substrates and of the corresponding Meisenheimer complexes with MeS- as a model nucleophile for GS- (charge distributions and several energy values), giving structure–activity relationships. On the basis of an identical dependence of the base-catalysed as well as the GST 1-1- and GST 7-7-catalysed reactions on electronic parameters (among others, Hammett substituent constant σp and charge on p-nitro substituents), and the finding that the corresponding reactions catalysed by GSTs 3-3 and 4-4 depend to a significantly lesser extent on these parameters, it was concluded that the Mu-class GST isoenzymes have a rate-determining transition state in the conjugation reaction between 2-substituted 1-chloro-4-nitrobenzenes and GSH which is different from that of the other two GSTs. Several alternative rate-limiting transition states for GST 3-3 and 4-4 are discussed. Furthermore, based on the obtained structure–activity relationships, it was possible to predict the kcat/Km values of the four GST isoenzymes and the ks of the base-catalysed GSH conjugation of 1-chloro-4-nitrobenzene.

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