Human short-chain dehydrogenases/reductases with dual retinol/sterol substrate specificity (RODH-like enzymes) are thought to contribute to the oxidation of retinol for retinoic acid biosynthesis and to the metabolism of androgenic and neuroactive 3α-hydroxysteroids. Here, we investigated the phylogeny and orthology of these proteins to understand better their origins and physiological roles. Phylogenetic and genomic analysis showed that two proteins (11-cis-RDH and RDHL) are highly conserved, and their orthologs can be identified in the lower taxa, such as amphibians and fish. Two other proteins (RODH-4 and 3α-HSD) are significantly less conserved. Orthologs for 3α-HSD are present in all mammals analyzed, whereas orthologs for RODH-4 can be identified in some mammalian species but not in others due to species-specific gene duplications. Understanding the evolution and divergence of RODH-like enzymes in various vertebrate species should facilitate further investigation of their in vivo functions using animal models.
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