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Highly Accessed Protein family review

Plant glutathione transferases

David P Dixon1, Adrian Lapthorn2 and Robert Edwards1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3LE, UK

2 Department of Chemistry, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

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Genome Biology 2002, 3:reviews3004-reviews3004.10  doi:10.1186/gb-2002-3-3-reviews3004

Published: 26 February 2002

Abstract

The soluble glutathione transferases (GSTs, EC 2.5.1.18) are encoded by a large and diverse gene family in plants, which can be divided on the basis of sequence identity into the phi, tau, theta, zeta and lambda classes. The theta and zeta GSTs have counterparts in animals but the other classes are plant-specific and form the focus of this article. The genome of Arabidopsis thaliana contains 48 GST genes, with the tau and phi classes being the most numerous. The GST proteins have evolved by gene duplication to perform a range of functional roles using the tripeptide glutathione (GSH) as a cosubstrate or coenzyme. GSTs are predominantly expressed in the cytosol, where their GSH-dependent catalytic functions include the conjugation and resulting detoxification of herbicides, the reduction of organic hydroperoxides formed during oxidative stress and the isomerization of maleylacetoacetate to fumarylacetoacetate, a key step in the catabolism of tyrosine. GSTs also have non-catalytic roles, binding flavonoid natural products in the cytosol prior to their deposition in the vacuole. Recent studies have also implicated GSTs as components of ultraviolet-inducible cell signaling pathways and as potential regulators of apoptosis. Although sequence diversification has produced GSTs with multiple functions, the structure of these proteins has been highly conserved. The GSTs thus represent an excellent example of how protein families can diversify to fulfill multiple functions while conserving form and structure.