May 23, 2014

Review: The Origin and Biosynthesis of the Benzenoid Moiety of Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q) in Arabidopsis

The Plant Cell tpc.114.125807

Anna Blocka, Joshua R. Widhalmb, Abdelhak Fatihia, Rebecca E. Cahoona, Yashitola Wamboldta, Christian Elowskya, Sally A. Mackenziea, Edgar B. Cahoona, Clint Chappleb, Natalia Dudarevab and Gilles J. Basseta,*

* Corresponding author (

aCenter for Plant Science Innovation, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588
bDepartment of Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907

Ubiquinone belongs to a family of prenylated quinone redox co-factors that are essential electron  and proton carriers in most organisms. While the biosynthesis of the prenyl side chain which anchors it to the mitochondrial membrane is fairly well understood, the biosynthesis of the benzenoid ring has long mystified plant scientists. In bacteria, the benzenoid ring is synthesized from 4-hydroxy benzoate, itself a derivative of chorismate. In fungi, the same moiety is made from para amino benzoic acid (pABA). Work headed by University of Nebraska scientist Gilles J. Basset reports this week a major advance in our understanding of the biosynthesis of the benzenoid ring of ubiquinone in plants. Using Arabidopsis thaliana, they showed that the benzenoid ring can come from either phenylalanine or tyrosine, two fully independent routes, while phenylalaine appears to provide the bulk of substrate leading to the final redox co-factor.

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