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Open Access Research article

The maize ALDH protein superfamily: linking structural features to functional specificities

Jose C Jimenez-Lopez15, Emma W Gachomo2, Manfredo J Seufferheld3 and Simeon O Kotchoni4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology of Plants; Estacion Experimental del Zaidin (EEZ), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Profesor Albareda 1, E-18008, Granada, Spain

2 Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, Lilly Hall, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

3 Department of Crop Science, University of Illinois U-C, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA

4 Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, Lilly Hall, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

5 Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

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BMC Structural Biology 2010, 10:43  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-10-43

Published: 29 December 2010



The completion of maize genome sequencing has resulted in the identification of a large number of uncharacterized genes. Gene annotation and functional characterization of gene products are important to uncover novel protein functionality.


In this paper, we identify, and annotate members of all the maize aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) gene superfamily according to the revised nomenclature criteria developed by ALDH Gene Nomenclature Committee (AGNC). The maize genome contains 24 unique ALDH sequences encoding members of ten ALDH protein families including the previously identified male fertility restoration RF2A gene, which encodes a member of mitochondrial class 2 ALDHs. Using computational modeling analysis we report here the identification, the physico-chemical properties, and the amino acid residue analysis of a novel tunnel like cavity exclusively found in the maize sterility restorer protein, RF2A/ALDH2B2 by which this protein is suggested to bind variably long chain molecular ligands and/or potentially harmful molecules.


Our finding indicates that maize ALDH superfamily is the most expanded of plant ALDHs ever characterized, and the mitochondrial maize RF2A/ALDH2B2 is the only plant ALDH that harbors a newly defined pocket/cavity with suggested functional specificity.