Protein sequence analysis of the cloned sialyltransferase gene family has revealed the presence of two conserved protein motifs in the middle of the lumenal catalytic domain, termed L-sialylmotif and S-sialylmotif. In our previous study (Datta, A. K., and Paulson, J. C. (1995) J. Biol. Chem. 270, 1497-1500) the larger L-sialylmotif of ST6Gal I was analyzed by site-directed mutagenesis, which provided evidence that it participates in the binding of the CMP-NeuAc, a common donor substrate for all the sialyltransferases. However, none of the mutants tested in this motif had any significant effect on their binding affinities toward the acceptor substrate asialo alpha1-acid glycoprotein. In this study, we have investigated the role of the S-sialylmotif of the same enzyme ST6Gal I. In total, nine mutants have been constructed by changing the conserved amino acids of this motif to mostly alanine by site-directed mutagenesis. Kinetic analysis for the mutants which retained sialyltransferase activity showed that the mutations in the S-sialylmotif caused a change of Km values for both the donor and the acceptor substrates. Our results indicated that this motif participates in the binding of both the substrates. A sequence homology search also supported this finding, which showed that the downstream amino acid sequence of the S-sialylmotif is conserved for each subgroup of this enzyme family, indicating its association with the acceptor substrate.