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Alcohol dehydrogenase class IV (ADH4) participates in retinol metabolism and is expressed primarily in ocular, digestive, and reproductive tissues of the mouse. A naturally occurring genetic variant in C57BL/6J mice results in a faster migrating ADH4 enzyme during electrophoresis when compared to other non-C57BJ/6J strains. The C57BL/6 ADH4 gene coding sequence is found to have two nucleotide substitutions when compared to the gene from C3HeB/FeJ mice. The substitution in exon 5 encodes Arg120 instead of Cys120 in C57BL/6 ADH4 polypeptide; that would account for the protein electrophoretic phenotype. Arg120 is present in all published mammalian ADH4 sequences but is only in a limited number of mouse strains. The Arg120 residue is part of the outer loop of the substrate binding pocket and appears to have an effect on the affinity of the enzyme for several substrates.