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Mol Biol Evol. 2001 Dec;18(12):2154-61.

Structure-based phylogenetic analysis of short-chain alcohol dehydrogenases and reclassification of the 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase family.

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Institute of Experimental Genetics, Genome Analysis Center, GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, Neuherberg, Germany.


Short-chain alcohol dehydrogenases (SCAD) constitute a large and diverse family of ancient origin. Several of its members play an important role in human physiology and disease, especially in the metabolism of steroid substrates (e.g., prostaglandins, estrogens, androgens, and corticosteroids). Their involvement in common human disorders such as endocrine-related cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer disease makes them an important candidate for drug targets. Recent phylogenetic analysis of SCAD is incomplete and does not allow any conclusions on very ancient divergences or on a functional characterization of novel proteins within this complex family. We have developed a 3D structure-based approach to establish the deep-branching pattern within the SCAD family. In this approach, pairwise superpositions of X-ray structures were used to calculate similarity scores as an input for a tree-building algorithm. The resulting phylogeny was validated by comparison with the results of sequence-based algorithms and biochemical data. It was possible to use the 3D data as a template for the reliable determination of the phylogenetic position of novel proteins as a first step toward functional predictions. We were able to discern new patterns in the phylogenetic relationships of the SCAD family, including a basal dichotomy of the 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (17beta-HSDs). These data provide an important contribution toward the development of type-specific inhibitors for 17beta-HSDs for the treatment and prevention of disease. Our structure-based phylogenetic approach can also be applied to increase the reliability of evolutionary reconstructions in other large protein families.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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