, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 471-485
Date: 15 Nov 2012

The glutathione S-transferase gene superfamily: an in silico approach to study the post translational regulation

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The use of plants to reclaim contaminated soils and groundwater, known as phytoremediation, is a promising biotechnological strategy which has gained a lot of attention in the last few years. Plants have evolved sophisticated detoxification systems against the toxin chemicals: following the uptake, the compounds are activated so that certain functional groups can conjugate hydrophilic molecules, such as thiols. The resulting conjugates are recognized by the tonoplast transporters and sequestered into the vacuoles. The xenobiotic conjugation with glutathione is mediated by enzymes which belong to the superfamily of glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) catalyzing the nucleophylic attack of the sulphur of glutathione on the electrophilic groups of the cytotoxic substrates therefore playing a crucial role in their degradation. This study was designed to identify the putative correlation between structural and functional characteristics of plant GST classes belonging to different plant species. Consequently, the protein sequences of the expressed GSTs have been retrieved from UniGene, classified and then analyzed in order to assess the evolutionary trend and to predict secondary structure. Moreover, the fingerprint analysis was performed with SCAN Prosite in the attempt to correlate meaningful signature profile and biological information. The results evidenced that all the soluble GSTs have a tendency to assume the α-helix secondary structure followed by random coil and β-sheet. The fingerprint analysis revealed that specific signature profiles related mainly to protein phosphorylation are in the GST classes of all considered species thus suggesting that they might be subjected to reversible activation by phosphorylation-mediated regulation. This approach provides the knowledge of the relationship between presence of conserved signature profile and biological function in the view of future selection of GSTs which might be employed in either mutagenesis or genetic engineering studies.