Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Unlike animals which accumulate glutathione (gamma-glutamyl-L-cysteinyl-glycine) alone as their major thiol antioxidant, several crops synthesize alternative forms of glutathione by varying the carboxy residue. The molecular basis of this variation is not well understood, but the substrate specificity of the respective GSs (glutathione synthetases) has been implicated. To investigate their substrate tolerance, five GS-like cDNAs have been cloned from plants that can accumulate alternative forms of glutathione, notably soya bean [hGSH (homoglutathione or gamma-glutamyl-L-cysteinyl-beta-alanine)], wheat (hydroxymethylglutathione or gamma-glutamyl-L-cysteinyl-serine) and maize (gamma-Glu-Cys-Glu). The respective recombinant GSs were then assayed for the incorporation of differing C-termini into gamma-Glu-Cys. The soya bean enzyme primarily incorporated beta-alanine to form hGSH, whereas the GS enzymes from cereals preferentially catalysed the formation of glutathione. However, when assayed with other substrates, several GSs and one wheat enzyme in particular were able to synthesize a diverse range of glutathione variants by incorporating unusual C-terminal moieties including D-serine, non-natural amino acids and alpha-amino alcohols. Our results suggest that plant GSs are capable of producing a diverse range of glutathione homologues depending on the availability of the acyl acceptor.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date





567 - 574


Amino Acid Sequence, Binding Sites, Cloning, Molecular, Gene Expression Regulation, Plant, Glutathione Synthase, Molecular Sequence Data, Sequence Alignment, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid, Soybeans, Species Specificity, Substrate Specificity, Triticum, Zea mays