Sulfoconjugation plays a vital role in the detoxification of xenobiotics and in the metabolism of endogenous compounds. In this study, we aimed to identify new members of the sulfotransferase (SULT) superfamily in the silkworm Bombyx mori. Based on amino acid sequence and phylogenetic analyses, two new enzymes, swSULT ST1 and swSULT ST2, were identified that appear to belong to a distinct group of SULTs including several other insect SULTs. We expressed, purified, and characterized recombinant SULTs. While swSULT ST1 sulfated xanthurenic acid and pentachlorophenol, swSULT ST2 exclusively utilized xanthurenic acid as a substrate. Based on these results, and those concerning the tissue distribution and substrate specificity toward pentachlorophenol analyses, we hypothesize that swSULT ST1 plays a role in the detoxification of xenobiotics, including insecticides, in the silkworm midgut and in the induction of gametogenesis in silkworm ovary and testis. Collectively, the data obtained herein contribute to a better understanding of SULT enzymatic functions in insects.
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