Biochemistry, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



J. Biol. Chem. (2021) 297(5) 101283.


open access


Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q) is a vital respiratory cofactor and liposoluble antioxidant. In plants, it is not known how the C-6 hydroxylation of demethoxyubiquinone, the penultimate step in ubiquinone biosynthesis, is catalyzed. The combination of cross-species gene network modeling along with mining of embryo-defective mutant databases of Arabidopsis thaliana identified the embryo lethal locus EMB2421 (At1g24340) as a top candidate for the missing plant demethoxyubiquinone hydroxylase. In marked contrast with prototypical eukaryotic demethoxyubiquinone hydroxylases, the catalytic mechanism of which depends on a carboxylatebridged di-iron domain, At1g24340 is homologous to FADdependent oxidoreductases that instead use NAD(P)H as an electron donor. Complementation assays in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli demonstrated that At1g24340 encodes a functional demethoxyubiquinone hydroxylase and that the enzyme displays strict specificity for the C-6 position of the benzoquinone ring. Laser-scanning confocal microscopy also showed that GFP-tagged At1g24340 is targeted to mitochondria. Silencing of At1g24340 resulted in 40 to 74% decrease in ubiquinone content and de novo ubiquinone biosynthesis. Consistent with the role of At1g24340 as a benzenoid ring modification enzyme, this metabolic blockage could not be bypassed by supplementation with 4-hydroxybenzoate, the immediate precursor of ubiquinone’s ring. Unlike in yeast, in Arabidopsis overexpression of demethoxyubiquinone hydroxylase did not boost ubiquinone content. Phylogenetic reconstructions indicated that plant demethoxyubiquinone hydroxylase is most closely related to prokaryotic monooxygenases that act on halogenated aromatics and likely descends from an event of hor