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The level of expression of glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) and cytochrome P450s in breast tissue are potentially important determinants in both the susceptibility of this tissue to the mutagenic effects of chemical carcinogens and in the response of breast tumors to chemotherapy. In this study we have investigated the expression of these proteins in 41 tumor and surrounding normal breast tissue samples by measurement of substrate metabolism. Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. In addition, we have quantitated the concentration of alpha, mu and pi class GST subunits using radioimmunoassay. All three classes of GST were expressed in breast tissue. The pi and mu class enzymes preponderate. Both the polymorphic mu class GST as well as a further form, present in all individuals, were found in high concentration. The polymorphic mu class GST was expressed in approximately 50% of the samples, which is consistent with the frequency of this polymorphism in the population and therefore does not appear to be a factor in susceptibility to this disease. Interestingly, although levels of the alpha class GST were very low, in two tumor samples extremely high levels of the B1B1 subunit were detected. Immunohistochemical studies showed significant variability in the localization of the pi class of GST between normal epithelial cells, infiltrating plasma cells and tumor cells, and in some samples GST pi appeared to be almost absent from the tumor tissue. No direct, or inverse correlation was found between GST pi concentration determined by radioimmunoassay and estrogen receptor levels. However, when studied by immunohistochemistry estrogen receptor negative tumors did tend to have higher GST pi content. The only cytochrome P450 detectable by Western blot analysis was a member of the P450IIC gene family. This was apparently distinct from the P450IIC proteins expressed in the liver and was detected in normal and tumor tissues to a similar extent.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2163 - 2170


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Blotting, Western, Breast, Breast Neoplasms, Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System, Gene Expression, Glutathione Transferase, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Isoenzymes, Middle Aged, Radioimmunoassay