Cytosolic sulfotransferases (SULTs) are traditionally known as the Phase II drug-metabolizing or detoxifying enzymes that serve for the detoxification of drugs and other xenobiotics. These enzymes in general catalyze the transfer of a sulfonate group from the active sulfate, 3′-phophoadenosine 5′-phosphosulfate (PAPS), to low-molecular weight substrate compounds containing hydroxyl or amino group(s). Despite considerable efforts made in recent years, some fundamental aspects of the SULTs, particularly their ontogeny, cell type/tissue/organ-specific distribution, and physiological relevance, particularly their involvement in drug metabolism and detoxification, still remain poorly understood. To better understand these fundamental issues, we have embarked on developing the zebrafish as a model for studies concerning the SULTs. To date, fifteen zebrafish SULTs have been cloned, expressed, purified, and characterized. These zebrafish SULTs, which fall into four major SULT gene families, exhibited differential substrate specificities and distinct patterns of expression at different stages during embryogenesis, through larval development, and on to maturity. The information obtained, as summarized in this review, provides a foundation for further investigation into the physiological and pharmacological involvement of the SULTs using the zebrafish as a model.
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