Glycine N-methyltransferase is a protein with many functions. In addition to catalyzing the production of sarcosine in the one carbon metabolism pathway, it plays a role in the detoxification of environmental carcinogens such as benzo[a]pyrene, aflatoxin B1, and aristocholic acid. There is also increasing evidence suggesting a role of GNMT deficiency in liver carcinogenesis. In this review, we discuss the role of GNMT in the detoxification of xenobiotics and the mechanism of GNMT suppression during liver tumorigenesis. The protective role of GNMT in the liver allows GNMT to not only serve as a marker of liver disease, but also potentially be applied in the treatment of liver disorders and hepatocellular carcinoma. We describe the potential use of GNMT in gene therapy and we introduce the development of a GNMT promoter reporter assay that can be used to screen medicinal drugs and herbal libraries for natural compounds with anti-cancer properties.
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