We have purified five forms of glutathione S-transferase from rat liver. One form was the glutathione S-transferase B (ligandin), which is composed of two non-identical subunits with molecular weights of 22,000 (Ya) and 25,000 (Yc). Two of the other transferases were Ya and Yc homodimers. The other two transferases were also homodimers, but their subunit, Yb, had a molecular weight of 24,000. The three proteins containing either Ya or Yc subunits had similar substrate specificities, and all three contained peroxidase activity. The greatest peroxidase activity was present in proteins containing the Yc subunit. Enzymes composed of Yb subunits had minimal peroxidase activity in addition to different substrate specificities. The Ya and Yc containing enzymes bound the ligands bilirubin and indocyanine green with high affinity (KD < 5 μM), although the KD values of the YcYc protein were consistently 4- to 12-fold greater than those of the other two transferases. Studies were performed to define the origins of the various isozymes. There was no evidence for conversion of Yc to either Ya or Yb during storage or under conditions favorable to proteolysis. Hybridization studies were performed under denaturing conditions (6 M guanidine-HCl), and a YaYc hybrid was formed from the YaYa and YcYc proteins. In addition, both YaYa and YcYc hybrids were formed from transferase B. The hybrids were functionally similar to the proteins isolated originally from the liver. Attempts to form a YaYb hybrid from the YbYb and YaYa transferases were unsuccessful. This result is consistent with the lack of this enzyme form in the liver. Glutathione S-transferase B and the Ya and Yc homodimers appeared to be hybrids of common subunits. These three transferases had very similar functional and structural characteristics and differed from the transferases that are composed of Yb subunits.
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