Aldehyde oxidases are molybdo-flavoenzymes structurally related to xanthine oxidoreductase. They catalyze the oxidation of aldehydes or N-heterocycles of physiological, pharmacological, and toxicological relevance. Rodents are characterized by four aldehyde oxidases as follows: AOX1 and aldehyde oxidase homologs 1-3 (AOH1, AOH2, and AOH3). Humans synthesize a single functional aldehyde oxidase, AOX1. Here we define the structure and the characteristics of the aldehyde oxidase genes and proteins in chicken and dog. The avian genome contains two aldehyde oxidase genes, AOX1 and AOH, mapping to chromosome 7. AOX1 and AOH are structurally very similar and code for proteins whose sequence was deduced from the corresponding cDNAs. AOX1 is the ortholog of the same gene in mammals, whereas AOH represents the likely ancestor of rodent AOH1, AOH2, and AOH3. The dog genome is endowed with two structurally conserved and active aldehyde oxidases clustering on chromosome 37. Cloning of the corresponding cDNAs and tissue distribution studies demonstrate that they are the orthologs of rodent AOH2 and AOH3. The vestiges of dog AOX1 and AOH1 are recognizable upstream of AOH2 and AOH3 on the same chromosome. Comparison of the complement and the structure of the aldehyde oxidase and xanthine oxidoreductase genes in vertebrates and other animal species indicates that they evolved through a series of duplication and inactivation events. Purification of the chicken AOX1 protein to homogeneity from kidney demonstrates that the enzyme possesses retinaldehyde oxidase activity. Unlike humans and most other mammals, dog and chicken are devoid of liver aldehyde oxidase activity.
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