Modén O, Zhang W, Mannervik B
Protein Eng. Des. Sel. 25 (4) 189-197 [2012-04-00; online 2012-02-16]
Glutathione transferase (GST) A2-2 is the human enzyme displaying the highest catalytic activity with the prodrug azathioprine (Aza). The reaction releases pharmacologically active 6-mercaptopurine by displacing the imidazole moiety from the Aza molecule. The GST-catalyzed reaction is of medical significance, since high rates of Aza activation may lead to adverse side effects in treated patients. The present study involves structure-activity relationships in GST A2-2 variants. Chimeric GSTs were previously generated by DNA shuffling and two peptide segments, one N-terminal and one C-terminal, were identified as primary determinants of Aza activity. The segments contain several residues of the substrate-binding H-site and their significance for supporting high Aza activity was investigated. Substitution of the corresponding two small regions in the low-activity human GST A3-3 or rat GST A3-3 by the human GST A2-2 segments generated chimeras with ∼10-fold enhanced Aza activity. The H-site residues Met208 and Leu213 in the C-terminal segment of GST A2-2 were mutated to produce a library with all possible residue combinations. At a calculated 93% library coverage, all of the 1880 mutants examined showed wild-type or decreased Aza activity, even though some retained activities with alternative substrates, further emphasizing the importance of this region for the targeted activity.