Neurochemistry international

The human GLUD2 glutamate dehydrogenase and its regulation in health and disease.

PMID 21420458


Whereas glutamate dehydrogenase in most mammals (hGDH1 in the human) is encoded by a single functional GLUD1 gene expressed widely, humans and other primates have acquired through retroposition an X-linked GLUD2 gene that encodes a highly homologous isoenzyme (hGDH2) expressed in testis and brain. Using an antibody specific for hGDH2, we showed that hGDH2 is expressed in testicular Sertoli cells and in cerebral cortical astrocytes. Although hGDH1 and hGDH2 have similar catalytic properties, they differ markedly in their regulatory profile. While hGDH1 is potently inhibited by GTP and may be controlled by the need of the cell for ATP, hGDH2 has dissociated its function from GTP and may metabolize glutamate even when the Krebs cycle generates GTP amounts sufficient to inactivate hGDH1. As astrocytes are known to provide neurons with lactate that largely derives from the Krebs cycle via conversion of glutamate to α-ketoglutarate, the selective expression of hGDH2 may facilitate metabolic recycling processes essential for glutamatergic transmission. As there is evidence for deregulation of glutamate metabolism in degenerative neurologic disorders, we sequenced GLUD1 and GLUD2 genes in neurologic patients and found that a rare T1492G variation in GLUD2 that results in substitution of Ala for Ser445 in the regulatory domain of hGDH2 interacted significantly with Parkinson's disease (PD) onset. Thus, in two independent Greek and one North American PD cohorts, Ser445Ala hemizygous males, but not heterozygous females, developed PD 6-13 years earlier than subjects with other genotypes. The Ala445-hGDH2 variant shows enhanced catalytic activity that is resistant to modulation by GTP, but sensitive to inhibition by estrogens. These observations are thought to suggest that enhanced glutamate oxidation by the Ala445-hGDH2 variant accelerates nigral cell degeneration in hemizygous males and that inhibition of the overactive enzyme by estrogens protects heterozygous females. We then evaluated the interaction of estrogens and neuroleptic agents (haloperidol and perphenazine) with the wild-type hGDH1 and hGDH2 and found that both inhibited hGDH2 more potently than hGDH1 and that the evolutionary Arg443Ser substitution was largely responsible for this sensitivity. Hence, the properties acquired by hGDH2 during its evolution have made the enzyme a selective target for neuroactive steroids and drugs, providing new means for therapeutic interventions in disorders linked to deregulation of this enzyme.