Aldehyde dehydrogenase gene superfamily: the 2002 update

Chem Biol Interact. 2003 Feb 1;143-144:5-22. doi: 10.1016/s0009-2797(02)00163-1.


The aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) superfamily represents a divergently related group of enzymes that metabolize a wide variety of endogenous and exogenous aldehydes. With the advent of megabase genome sequencing, the ALDH superfamily is continuously expanding on many fronts. The presence of ALDH encoding genes in the vast majority of archaeal, eubacterial and eukaryotic genomes supports the notion that these enzymes are important components of metabolic processes in living organisms and that the ALDH superfamily is ancient in origin. As of July 2002, the ALDH superfamily consists of 555 distinct genes: 32 in archaea, 351 in eubacteria, and 172 in eukaryota. Complete sequencing of individual genomes reveals the number of ALDH genes found per organism ranges from 1 to 5 in archaeal species, 1-26 genes in eubacterial species, and 8-17 genes in eukaryotic species. In the human genome, 17 functional genes and 3 pseudogenes have been identified to date. A standardized ALDH gene nomenclature system has been developed based on multiple alignment analysis of eukaryotic ALDH amino acid sequences. Both Human and Mouse Genome Projects have accepted this nomenclature system. In this report, we present a complete listing of all ALDH sequences known to date, along with the evolutionary analysis of the eukaryotic ALDHs. Thus far, the eukaryotic ALDHs comprise 20 gene families. Detailed information on ALDH gene superfamily is also available at

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Multigene Family*
  • Species Specificity


  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase