Opponent: Professor Philip G. Board, The John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Abstract

Glutathione transferases (GSTs, EC.2.5.1.18) are multifunctional enzymes that are universally distributed in all cellular life forms. They play important roles in metabolism and detoxication of endogenously produced toxic compounds and xenobiotics. GSTs have gained considerable interest over the years for biomedical and biotechnological applications due to their involvement in the conjugation of glutathione (GSH) to a vast array of chemical species. Additionally, the emergence of non-detoxifying functions of GSTs has further increased their biological significance. The present work encompasses four scientific studies aimed at investigating human as well as fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster GSTs.

Paper I presents the immobilization of GSTs on nanoporous alumina membranes. Kinetic analyses with 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene followed by specificity screening with alternative substrates showed a good correlation between the data obtained from immobilized enzymes and the enzymes in solution. Furthermore, immobilization showed no adverse effects on the stability of the enzymes.

Paper II presents inhibition studies of human hematopoietic prostaglandin D2 synthase (HPGDS), a promising therapeutic target for anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory drugs. Our screening results with an FDA-approved drug library revealed a number of effective inhibitors of HPGDS with IC50 values in the low micromolar range.

Paper III concerns the toxicity of organic isothiocyanates (ITCs) that showed high catalytic activities with GSTE7 in vitro. The in vivo results showed that phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) and allyl isothiocyanate in millimolar dietary concentrations conferred toxicity to the adult fruit flies leading to death or shortened life-span. The transgenic female flies overexpressing GSTE7 showed increased tolerance against PEITC toxicity compared to the wild-type. However, the effect was opposite in male flies overexpressing GSTE7 after one week exposure. Notably, the transgene enhanced the oviposition activity of flies with and without ITCs exposure.

Paper IV highlights Drosophila GSTs as efficient catalysts of the environmental pollutant and explosive 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene and the related 2,4-dinitrotoluene degradation. This result suggests the potential of GST transgenes in plants for biotransformation and phytoremediation of these persistent environmental pollutants.