Ubiquinone is an essential component of the electron transfer system in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes and is synthesized from chorismate and polyprenyl diphosphate by eight steps. p-Hydroxybenzoate (PHB) polyprenyl diphosphate transferase catalyzes the condensation of PHB and polyprenyl diphosphate in ubiquinone biosynthesis. We isolated the gene (designated ppt1) encoding PHB polyprenyl diphosphate transferase from Schizosaccharomyces pombe and constructed a strain with a disrupted ppt1 gene. This strain could not grow on minimal medium supplemented with glucose. Expression of COQ2 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the defective S. pombe strain restored growth and enabled the cells to produce ubiquinone-10, indicating that COQ2 and ppt1 are functional homologs. The ppt1-deficient strain required supplementation with antioxidants, such as cysteine, glutathione, and α-tocopherol, to grow on minimal medium. This suggests that ubiquinone can act as an antioxidant, a premise supported by our observation that the ppt1-deficient strain is sensitive to H2O2 and Cu2+. Interestingly, we also found that the ppt1-deficient strain produced a significant amount of H2S, which suggests that oxidation of sulfide by ubiquinone may be an important pathway for sulfur metabolism in S. pombe. Ppt1-green fluorescent protein fusion proteins localized to the mitochondria, indicating that ubiquinone biosynthesis occurs in the mitochondria in S. pombe. Thus, analysis of the phenotypes of S. pombe strains deficient in ubiquinone production clearly demonstrates that ubiquinone has multiple functions in the cell apart from being an integral component of the electron transfer system
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