Glutathione transferases (GSTs) are found ubiquitously in aerobic organisms. They were first discovered in animals in 1961 where they were postulated to play a role in the detoxification of drugs. Their central role in detoxification and drug resistance pathways in mammals has now been established but additional functions are continually being attributed to this complex enzyme family.
For example, GSTs are important mediators in oxidative stress responses, are involved in the synthesis of prostaglandins, and facilitate intracellular transport of hydrophobic compounds. Mammalian GSTs are particularly well studied due to their role in cancer epidemiology and treatment. Several GSTs can metabolize environmentally derived carcinogens and polymorphisms in these genes are linked to cancer risk. In addition, the overexpression of GSTs in tumor cells can contribute to drug resistance.
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