Glutathione synthetase promotes the reduction of arsenate via arsenolysis of glutathione

Balázs Németi, Mary E. Anderson, Zoltán Gregus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


The environmentally prevalent arsenate (As V) undergoes reduction in the body to the much more toxic arsenite (As III). Phosphorolytic enzymes and ATP synthase can promote the reduction As V by converting it into arsenylated products in which the pentavalent arsenic is more reducible by glutathione (GSH) to As III than in inorganic As V. Glutathione synthetase (GS) can catalyze the arsenolysis of GSH (γ-Glu-Cys-Gly) yielding two arsenylated products, i.e. γ-Glu-Cys-arsenate and ADP-arsenate. Thus, GS may also promote the reduction of As V by GSH. This hypothesis was tested with human recombinant GS, a Mg 2+ dependent enzyme. GS markedly increased As III formation when incubated with As V, GSH, Mg 2+ and ADP, but not when GSH, Mg 2+ or ADP were separately omitted. Phosphate, a substrate competitive with As V in the arsenolysis of GSH, as well as the products of GSH arsenolysis or their analogs, e.g. glycine and γ-Glu-aminobutyrate, decreased As V reduction. Replacement of ADP with ATP or an analog that cannot be phosphorylated or arsenylated abolished As V reduction, indicating that GS-supported As V reduction requires formation of ADP-arsenate. In the presence of ADP, however, ATP (but not its metabolically inert analog) tripled As V reduction because ATP permits GS to remove the arsenolysis inhibitory glycine and γ-Glu-Cys by converting them into GSH. GS failed to promote As V reduction when GSH was replaced with ophthalmic acid, a GSH analog substrate of GS containing no SH group (although ophthalmic acid did undergo GS-catalyzed arsenolysis), indicating that the SH group of GSH is important for As V reduction. Our findings support the conclusion that GS promotes reduction of As V by catalyzing the arsenolysis of GSH, thus producing ADP-arsenate, which upon being released from the enzyme is readily reduced by GSH to As III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1327-1333
Number of pages7
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2012



  • ADP-arsenate
  • Arsenolysis
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione synthetase
  • Reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

Cite this