We used mice deficient in γ-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) to analyze the effects of GGT deficiency and altered thiol levels on gene expression in liver. GGT-deficient mice have markedly reduced levels of glutathione (GSH), cysteine, methionine, and cysteinylglycine in liver. Steady-state RNA levels of the catalytic subunit of γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (γ-GCS), the rate-limiting enzyme in GSH synthesis, are elevated 4-fold in these mice, while those for glutathione synthetase (GSH syn) are elevated 2-fold. RNA levels of cystathionase (cystathionine γ-lyase), a key enzyme in the synthesis of cysteine from methionine, are elevated ~3.5-fold. In contrast, levels of RNA coding for multidrug resistance protein 2 (MRP2), which transports GSH into bile, are half wild-type values. We found no change in RNA levels of enzymes related to oxidative injury (CuZn and Mn superoxide dismutases [SOD], catalase, and glutathione peroxidase). Similarly, RNA levels of glutathione reductase and ribonucleotide reductase were unchanged. Furthermore, in contrast to previous in vitro results, methyl methanesulfonate did not induce stress-activated signal transduction as measured by c-jun phosphorylation in livers of GGT-deficient mice, despite further depletion of GSH by buthionine sulfoximine. Our findings indicate that GGT deficiency itself and/or altered thiol levels regulate expression of genes involved in GSH metabolism, but have no effect on the expression of other antioxidant genes.
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