Sulfotransferase enzymes are known to regulate physiologically active substances such as steroids and catecholamines in mammals. Although invertebrates also express sulfotransferases, their biological function is mostly unclear. In a previous study, we reported that 4-nitrocatechol and the gallete ester are substrates for the silkworm sulfotransferase bmST1. The Km of bmST1 for these substrates is high. However, endogenous substrates of bmST1 have not yet been determined. We therefore investigated endogenous bmST1 substrates and carried out a detailed expression profile analysis of bmST1. We found that xanthurenic acid, a tryptophan metabolite, is a possible endogenous substrate of bmST1. The Km of bmST1 for xanthurenic acid is low, in the μM range, which is lower than that for previously reported substrates. Additionally, xanthurenic acid is a tryptophan metabolite that characteristically shows toxicity in vivo. High dose administration of xanthurenic acid resulted in inhibition of cuticular biosynthesis. The expression of the bmST1 gene reached a maximal level in the Malpighian tubule at the 4th molting stage, when amino acid metabolism might be activated. Our results suggest that bmST1 plays a role in detoxification of xanthurenic acid in the silkworm.
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