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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Epirubicin glucuronidation is catalyzed by human UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 2B7.

Epirubicin is one of the most active agents for breast cancer. The formation of epirubicin glucuronide by liver UDP-glucuronosyltransferase ( UGT) is its main inactivating pathway. This study aimed to investigate epirubicin glucuronidation in human liver microsomes, to identify the specific UGT isoform for this reaction, and to correlate epirubicin glucuronidation with other UGT substrates. Microsomes from human livers were used. UGTs specifically expressed in cellular systems, as well as two UGT2B7 variants, were screened for epirubicin glucuronidation. Epirubicin, morphine, and SN-38 glucuronides were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography. The mean +/- S.D. formation rate of epirubicin glucuronide in human liver microsomes (n = 47) was 138 +/- 37 pmol/min/mg (coefficient of variation, 24%). This phenotype was normally distributed. We screened commercially available UGT1A1, UGT1A3, UGT1A4, UGT1A6, UGT1A9, UGT2B7, and UGT2B15 for epirubicin glucuronidation. Only UGT2B7 converted epirubicin to its glucuronide. No differences in epirubicin glucuronidation were found in HK293 cells expressing the two UGT2B7 variants at position 268. Catalytic efficiency (V(max)/K(m)) of epirubicin glucuronidation was 1.4 microl/min/mg, a value higher than that observed for morphine, a substrate of UGT2B7. Formation of epirubicin glucuronide was significantly related to that of morphine-3-glucuronide (r = 0.76, p < 0.001) and morphine-6-glucuronide (r = 0.73, p < 0.001). No correlation was found with SN-38, a substrate of UGT1A1 (r = 0.04). UGT2B7 is the major human UGT catalyzing epirubicin glucuronidation, and UGT2B7 is the candidate gene for this phenotype. The reported tyrosine to histidine polymorphism in UGT2B7 does not alter the formation rate of epirubicin glucuronide, and undiscovered genetic polymorphisms in UGT2B7 might change the metabolic fate of this important anticancer agent.[1]


  1. Epirubicin glucuronidation is catalyzed by human UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 2B7. Innocenti, F., Iyer, L., Ramírez, J., Green, M.D., Ratain, M.J. Drug Metab. Dispos. (2001) [Pubmed]
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