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Open Access Research article

The UDP-glucosyltransferase multigene family in Bombyx mori

Fei-Fei Huang1, Chun-Li Chai1, Ze Zhang12, Zeng-Hu Liu1, Fang-Yin Dai1, Cheng Lu1* and Zhong-Huai Xiang1

Author Affiliations

1 The Key Sericultural Laboratory of Agricultural Ministry, Institute of Sericulture and Systems Biology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, PR China

2 The Institute of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Chongqing University, Chongqing 400044, PR China

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:563  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-563

Published: 27 November 2008



Glucosidation plays a major role in the inactivation and excretion of a great variety of both endogenous and exogenous compounds. A class of UDP-glycosyltransferases (UGTs) is involved in this process. Insect UGTs play important roles in several processes, including detoxication of substrates such as plant allelochemicals, cuticle formation, pigmentation, and olfaction. Identification and characterization of Bombyx mori UGT genes could provide valuable basic information for this important family and explain the detoxication mechanism and other processes in insects.


Taking advantage of the newly assembled genome sequence, we performed a genome-wide analysis of the candidate UGT family in the silkworm, B. mori. Based on UGT signature and their similarity to UGT homologs from other organisms, we identified 42 putative silkworm UGT genes. Most of them are clustered on the silkworm chromosomes, with two major clusters on chromosomes 7 and 28, respectively. The phylogenetic analysis of these identified 42 UGT protein sequences revealed five major groups. A comparison of the silkworm UGTs with homologs from other sequenced insect genomes indicated that some UGTs are silkworm-specific genes. The expression patterns of these candidate genes were investigated with known expressed sequence tags (ESTs), microarray data, and RT-PCR method. In total, 36 genes were expressed in tissues examined and showed different patterns of expression profile, indicating that these UGT genes might have different functions.


B. mori possesses a largest insect UGT gene family characterized to date, including 42 genes. Phylogenetic analysis, genomic organization and expression profiles provide an overview for the silkworm UGTs and facilitate their functional studies in future.