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Gene. 2007 Jul 1;396(1):108-15. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

Sequence and structural aspects of the functional diversification of plant alcohol dehydrogenases.

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  • 1Departamento de Genética, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Caixa Postal 15053, 91501-970 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


The glycolytic proteins in plants are coded by small multigene families, which provide an interesting contrast to the high copy number of gene families studied to date. The alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) genes encode glycolytic enzymes that have been characterized in some plant families. Although the amino acid sequences of zinc-containing long-chain ADHs are highly conserved, the metabolic function of this enzyme is variable. They also have different patterns of expression and are submitted to differences in nonsynonymous substitution rates between gene copies. It is possible that the Adh copies have been retained as a consequence of adaptative amino acid replacements which have conferred subtle changes in function. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that there have been a number of separate duplication events within angiosperms, and that genes labeled Adh1, Adh2 and Adh3 in different groups may not be homologous. Nonsynonymous/synonymous ratios yielded no signs of positive selection. However, the coefficients of functional divergence (theta) estimated between the Adh1 and Adh2 gene groups indicate statistically significant site-specific shift of evolutionary rates between them, as well as between those of different botanical families, suggesting that altered functional constraints may have taken place at some amino acid residues after their diversification. The theoretical three-dimensional structure of the alcohol dehydrogenase from Arabis blepharophylla was constructed and verified to be stereochemically valid.

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