• antioxidant;
  • coenzyme Q (CoQ; ubiquinone);
  • respiration;
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae;
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe;
  • yeast

CoQ (coenzyme Q), an isoprenylated benzoquinone, is a well-known component of the electron-transfer system in eukaryotes. The main role of CoQ is to transfer electrons from NADH dehydrogenase and succinate dehydrogenase to CoQ:cytochrome c reductase in the respiratory chain. However, recent evidence indicates that an involvement in respiration is not the only role of CoQ. The second apparent role of CoQ is its anti-oxidation property, and other novel roles for CoQ, such as in disulfide-bond formation, sulfide oxidation and pyrimidine metabolism, have been reported. CoQ10, having ten isoprene units in the isoprenoid side chain, has been used as a medicine and is now commercially popular as a food supplement. Two yeast species, namely the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which produces CoQ6, and the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which produces CoQ10, are the main subjects of the present minireview because they have greatly contributed to our basic knowledge of CoQ biosynthesis among eukaryotes. The biosynthetic pathway that converts p-hydroxybenzoate into CoQ consists of eight steps in yeasts. The five enzymes involved in the biosynthetic pathway have been identified in both yeasts, yet the functions of three proteins were still not known. Analyses of the biosynthetic pathway in yeasts also contribute to the understanding of human genetic diseases related to CoQ deficiency. In the present minireview I focus on the biochemical and commercial aspects of CoQ in yeasts and in other organisms for comparison.