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Short-chain dehydrogenases/reductases (SDRs) are enzymes of great functional diversity. In spite of a residue identity of only 15-30%, the folds are conserved to a large extent, with specific sequence motifs detectable. We have developed an assignment scheme based on these motifs and detect five families. Only two of these were known before, called 'Classical' and 'Extended', but are now distinguished at a further level based on patterns of charged residues in the coenzyme-binding region, giving seven subfamilies of classical SDRs and three subfamilies of extended SDRs. Three further families are novel entities, denoted 'Intermediate', 'Divergent' and 'Complex', encompassing short-chain alcohol dehydrogenases, enoyl reductases and multifunctional enzymes, respectively. The assignment scheme was applied to the genomes of human, mouse, D. melanogaster, C. elegans, A. thaliana and S. cerevisiae. In the animal genomes, genes corresponding to the extended SDRs amount to around one quarter or less of the total number of SDR genes, while in those of A. thaliana and S. cerevisiae, the extended members constitute about 40% of the SDR forms. The NAD(H)-dependent SDRs are about equally many as the NADP(H)-dependent ones in human, mouse and plant, while the proportions of NAD(H)-dependent enzymes are much lower in fruit fly, worm and yeast. We also find that NADP(H) is the preferred coenzyme among most classical SDRs, while NAD(H) is that preferred among most extended SDRs.

Original publication




Journal article


Chem biol interact

Publication Date





271 - 278


Animals, Coenzymes, Genome, Humans, Oxidoreductases, Species Specificity