We have reported the existence of low glutathione S-transferase (GST) dogs whose GST activity to 1,2-dichloro-4-nitrobenzene (DCNB) as a substrate (GST-D activity) is quite low, and have also reported significant individual differences in dog liver GST-D activity. The dogs were classified as "low", "middle", or "high" GST dogs based on their GST-D activity. In the present study, in order to investigate the causes of quite low GST-D activity in low GST dogs and the individual differences in dog GST-D activity, glutathione (GSH) conjugation of DCNB was kinetically analyzed. Moreover, liver cytosolic proteins whose expression levels were significantly lower in low GST dogs than in high GST dogs were identified by two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) and LC tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). Interestingly, Vmax values for this reaction well reflected their GST-D activities in all groups, i.e. they were 3.8, 80.6, and 169.2 nmol/min/mg protein in the low, middle, and high GST dogs, respectively. However, Km values were almost the same (260.0-283.7 microM) among these groups. These suggest that GSH conjugation of DCNB should be catalyzed by the same enzyme in all the dogs, and individual differences in the GST-D activity should be the result of individual differences in the expression level of the GST isozyme, which catalyzes conjugation of DCNB. In 2D-DIGE, the expression levels of the two protein spots were significantly lower in the low GST dogs than in the high GST dogs. Positive good correlation (r > 0.800) was observed between GST-D activity and expression levels of these two protein spots. Moreover, expression levels were quite low in low GST dogs. These two proteins were both identified as the theta class GST isozyme, YdfYdf, which specifically catalyzes GSH conjugation of DCNB in dog livers. In the present study, we present two novel findings based on an enzyme kinetic study and protein-expression analysis: (1) GSTYdfYdf is expressed at quite a low level in the liver of low GST dogs, and (2) individual differences in dog liver GST-D activity would be due to individual differences in the expression level of GSTYdfYdf. Considering these findings, low GST dogs might have high susceptibility, including an unexpected toxicity at abnormal exposure to chemicals metabolized by GSTYdfYdf.