Background: The Abeta-binding alcohol dehydrogenase/17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 10 (ABAD/HSD10) is an enzyme involved in pivotal metabolic processes and in the mitochondrial dysfunction seen in the Alzheimer's disease. Here we use comparative genomic analyses to study the evolution of the HADH2 gene encoding ABAD/HSD10 across several eukaryotic species.
Results: Both vertebrate and nematode HADH2 genes showed a six-exon/five-intron organization while those of the insects had a reduced and varied number of exons (two to three). Eutherian mammal HADH2 genes revealed some highly conserved noncoding regions, which may indicate the presence of functional elements, namely in the upstream region about 1 kb of the transcription start site and in the first part of intron 1. These regions were also conserved between Tetraodon and Fugu fishes. We identified a conserved alternative splicing event between human and dog, which have a nine amino acid deletion, causing the removal of the strand betaF. This strand is one of the seven strands that compose the core beta-sheet of the Rossman fold dinucleotide-binding motif characteristic of the short chain dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) family members. However, the fact that the substrate binding cleft residues are retained and the existence of a shared variant between human and dog suggest that it might be functional. Molecular adaptation analyses across eutherian mammal orthologues revealed the existence of sites under positive selection, some of which being localized in the substrate-binding cleft and in the insertion 1 region on loop D (an important region for the Abeta-binding to the enzyme). Interestingly, a higher than expected number of nonsynonymous substitutions were observed between human/chimpanzee and orangutan, with six out of the seven amino acid replacements being under molecular adaptation (including three in loop D and one in the substrate binding loop).
Conclusion: Our study revealed that HADH2 genes maintained a reasonable conserved organization across a large evolutionary distance. The conserved noncoding regions identified among mammals and between pufferfishes, the evidence of an alternative splicing variant conserved between human and dog, and the detection of positive selection across eutherian mammals, may be of importance for further research on ABAD/HSD10 function and its implication in the Alzheimer's disease.