Detoxification function of the Arabidopsis sulphotransferase AtSOT12 by sulphonation of xenobiotics

Jinhua Chen, Liqiong Gao, Dongwon Baek, Chunlin Liu, Ying Ruan, Huazhong Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Cytosolic sulphotransferases have been implicated in inactivation of endogenous steroid hormones and detoxification of xenobiotics in human and animals. Yet, the function of plant sulphotransferases in xenobiotic sulphonation and detoxification has not been reported. In this study, we show that the Arabidopsis sulphotransferase AtSOT12 could sulphonate the bacterial-produced toxin cycloheximide. Loss-of-function mutant sot12 exhibited hypersensitive phenotype to cycloheximide, and expression of AtSOT12 protein in yeast cells conferred resistance to this toxic compound. AtSOT12 exhibited broad specificity and could sulphonate a variety of xenobiotics including phenolic and polycyclic compounds. Enzyme kinetics analysis indicated that AtSOT12 has different selectivity for simple phenolics with different side chains, and the position of the side chain in the simple phenolic compounds affects substrate binding affinity and catalytic efficiency. We proposed that the broad specificity and induced production of AtSOT12 may have rendered this enzyme to not only modify endogenous molecules such as salicylic acid as we previously reported, but also sulphonate pathogen-produced toxic small molecules to protect them from infection. Sulphonation of small molecules in plants may constitute a rapid way to inactivate or change the physiochemical properties of biologically active molecules that could have profound effects on plant growth, development and defence. Plant sulfotransferases consist of a large gene family, but its role in plant growth, development and stress response has not been well characterized. This study reveals an important function of the Arabidopsis sulfotransferase AtSOT12 in detoxification of xenobiotics. Sulfonation of small molecules may constitute a rapid way to inactivate and/or change the physiochemical properties of both endogenous and xenobiotic molecules, thus modulating plant response to environmental stresses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1673-1682
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Cycloheximide
  • Enzyme kinetics
  • Plant defence
  • Sulphate conjugation


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