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Glutamate-Cysteine Ligase Catalytic Subunit


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Glutamate-cysteine ligase regulatory subunit (GCLC) together with Glutamate-cysteine ligase catalytic subunit (GCLM) forms an enzyme which is the first step in the cellular glutathione (GSH) biosynthetic pathway, and is encoded for by the GCLC gene.

Glutathione is a key antioxidant molecule which neutralizes reactive oxygen species, which cause oxidative stress in the body, on other molecules 1. As a relatively simple molecule glutathione is often thought of as the bodies first line of defense against oxidising species. Formed from three amino acids cysteine, glycine and glutamate, with the first reaction (joining glutamate and cysteine) being catalyzed by the enzyme glutamate cysteine ligase (GCL). GCL is formed from two separate subunits GCLC and GCLM which regulate its function 2.

There is one SNP in GCLC that is linked with impaired health outcomes rs17883901.



Science Grade
rsID Number Major Allele Minor Allele Minor Allele Frequency (%)
rs17883901 c t 7

Risk Description

There is some evidence that the risk ‘T’ allele of C53410037T in the GCLC gene is associated with impaired clearance of mercury which is a potent oxidant 3.

Mercury is typically eliminated from the body by antioxidants such as glutathione. However, in those carrying the risk ‘T’ allele, who also carry the risk ‘G’ allele of A313G in the GSTP1 gene mercury accumulation was observed.

The authors of the study hypothesize that this is due to reduced glutathione synthesis in the body however no data has yet been provided to demonstrate this.

Lifestyle Considerations:

Avoid mercury containing foods

Mercury is known for its toxic effects and so should be largely absent from the majority of food.

However, due to increasing environmental pollution and the ability of mercury to linger in relative plants and animals it is known to bio-accumulate rapidly. Therefore those carrying the risk ‘T’ allele of C53410037T may wish to avoid foods in which bio-magnification of mercury levels has occurred, such as certain fish and other apex predators 4, if they also carry the risk ‘G’ allele of A313G in the GSTP1 gene.

Discuss this information with your doctor before taking any course of action.

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