Functional Conservation of Coenzyme Q Biosynthetic Genes among Yeasts, Plants, and Humans

<div><p>Coenzyme Q (CoQ) is an essential factor for aerobic growth and oxidative phosphorylation in the electron transport system. The biosynthetic pathway for CoQ has been proposed mainly from biochemical and genetic analyses of <i>Escherichia coli</i> and <i>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</i>; however, the biosynthetic pathway in higher eukaryotes has been explored in only a limited number of studies. We previously reported the roles of several genes involved in CoQ synthesis in the fission yeast <i>Schizosaccharomyces pombe</i>. Here, we expand these findings by identifying ten genes (<i>dps1, dlp1, ppt1</i>, and <i>coq3–9</i>) that are required for CoQ synthesis. CoQ10-deficient <i>S. pombe coq</i> deletion strains were generated and characterized. All mutant fission yeast strains were sensitive to oxidative stress, produced a large amount of sulfide, required an antioxidant to grow on minimal medium, and did not survive at the stationary phase. To compare the biosynthetic pathway of CoQ in fission yeast with that in higher eukaryotes, the ability of CoQ biosynthetic genes from humans and plants (<i>Arabidopsis thaliana</i>) to functionally complement the <i>S. pombe coq</i> deletion strains was determined. With the exception of <i>COQ9</i>, expression of all other human and plant <i>COQ</i> genes recovered CoQ10 production by the fission yeast <i>coq</i> deletion strains, although the addition of a mitochondrial targeting sequence was required for human <i>COQ3</i> and <i>COQ7</i>, as well as <i>A. thaliana COQ6</i>. In summary, this study describes the functional conservation of CoQ biosynthetic genes between yeasts, humans, and plants.</p></div>