The protein encoded by this gene is a member of the alcohol dehydrogenase family. Members of this enzyme family metabolize a wide variety of substrates, including ethanol (beverage alcohol), retinol, other aliphatic alcohols, hydroxysteroids, and lipid peroxidation products. The encoded protein, known as ADH1B or beta-ADH, can form homodimers and heterodimers with ADH1A and ADH1C subunits, exhibits high activity for ethanol oxidation and plays a major role in ethanol catabolism (oxidizing ethanol into acetaldehyde). The acetaldehyde is further metabolized to acetate by aldehyde dehydrogenase genes. Three genes encoding the closely related alpha, beta and gamma subunits are tandemly organized in a genomic segment as a gene cluster.
A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in ADH1B is rs1229984, that changes arginine to histidine at residue 47 of the mature protein; standard nomenclature now includes the initiating methionine, so the position is officially 48.
The 'typical' variant of this has been referred to as ADH2(1) or ADH2*1 while the 'atypical' has been referred to as, e.g., ADH2(2), ADH2*2, ADH1B*48His.
This SNP is associated with the risk for alcohol dependence, alcohol use disorders and alcohol consumption, with the atypical genotype having reduced risk of alcoholism.
Another SNP is rs2066702 [Arg370Cys]. originally called position 369. This SNP is at high frequencies in populations from Africa, and also reduces risk for alcohol dependence.
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