Despite the important role of UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGT) in the metabolism of drugs, environmental chemicals and endogenous compounds, the structural features of these enzymes responsible for substrate binding and selectivity remain poorly understood. Since UGT2B7 and UGT2B15 exhibit distinct, but overlapping, substrate selectivities, UGT2B7-UGT2B15 chimeras were constructed here to identify substrate binding domains. A UGT2B7-15-7 chimera that incorporated amino acids 61-194 of UGT2B15 glucuronidated the UGT2B15 substrates testosterone and phenolphthalein, but not the UGT2B7 substrates zidovudine and 11alpha-hydroxyprogesterone. Derived apparent K(m) values for testosterone and phenolphthalein glucuronidation by UGT2B7-15((61-194))-7 were similar in magnitude to those determined for UGT2B15. Moreover, glucuronidation of the non-selective substrate 4-methylumbelliferone (4MU) by UGT2B7-15((61-194))-7 and UGT2B15 followed Michaelis-Menten and weak substrate inhibition kinetics, respectively, whereas 4MU glucuronidation by UGT2B7 exhibited sigmoidal kinetics characteristic of autoactivation. Six UGT2B7-15-7 chimeras that incorporated smaller domains of UGT2B15 were subsequently generated. Of these, UGT2B7-15((61-157))-7, UGT2B7-15((91-157))-7 and UGT2B7-15((61-91))-7 glucuronidated 4MU, but activity towards the other substrates investigated here was not detected. Like UGT2B7, the UGT2B7-15((61-157))-7, UGT2B7-15((91-157))-7 and UGT2B7-15((61-91))-7 chimeras exhibited sigmoidal 4MU glucuronidation kinetics. The sigmoidal 4MU kinetic data were well modelled using both the Hill equation and the expression for a two-site model that assumes the simultaneous binding of two substrate molecules at equivalent sites. It may be concluded that residues 61-194 of UGT2B15 are responsible for substrate binding and for conferring the unique substrate selectivity of UGT2B15, while residues 158-194 of UGT2B7 appear to facilitate the binding of multiple 4MU molecules within the active site.