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A touch of history and a peep into the future of the lipid-quinone known as coenzyme Q and ubiquinone

Ramasarma, T (2012) A touch of history and a peep into the future of the lipid-quinone known as coenzyme Q and ubiquinone. In: CURRENT SCIENCE, 102 (10). pp. 1459-1471.

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Coenzyme Q (ubiquinone), a fully substituted benzoquinone with polyprenyl side chain, participates in many cellular redox activities. Paradoxically it was discovered only in 1957, albeit being ubiquitous. It required a person, F. L. Crane, a place, Enzyme Institute, Madison, USA, and a time when D. E. Green was directing vigorous research on mitochondria. Located at the transition of 2-electron flavoproteins and 1-electron cytochrome carriers, it facilitates electron transfer through the elegant Q-cycle in mitochondria to reduce O-2 to H2O, and to H2O2, now a significant signal-transducing agent, as a minor activity in shunt pathway (animals) and alternative oxidase (plants). The ability to form Q-radical by losing an electron and a proton was ingeniously used by Mitchell to explain the formation of the proton gradient, considered the core of energy transduction, and also in acidification in vacuoles. Known to be a mobile membrane constituent (microsomes, plasma membrane and Golgi apparatus), allowing it to reach multiple sites, coenzyme Q is expected to have other activities. Coenzyme Q protects circulating lipoproteins being a better lipid antioxidant than even vitamin E. Binding to proteins such as QPS, QPN, QPC and uncoupling protein in mitochondria, QA and QB in the reaction centre in R. sphaeroides, and disulfide bond-forming protein in E. coli (possibly also in Golgi), coenzyme Q acquires selective functions. A characteristic of orally dosed coenzyme Q is its exclusive absorption into the liver, but not the other tissues. This enrichment of Q is accompanied by significant decrease of blood pressure and of serum cholesterol. Inhibition of formation of mevalonate, the common precursor in the branched isoprene pathway, by the minor product, coenzyme Q, decreases the major product, cholesterol. Relaxation of contracted arterial smooth muscle by a side-chain truncated product of coenzyme Q explains its effect of decreasing blood pressure. Extensive clinical studies carried out on oral supplements of coenzyine Q, initially by K. Folkers and Y. Yamamura and followed many others, revealed a large number of beneficial effects, significantly in cardiovascular diseases. Such a variety of effects by this lipid quinone cannot depend on redox activity alone. The fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) that bear structural relationship with coenzyme Q are known to be active in their polar forms. A vignette of modified forms of coenzyme Q taking active role in its multiple effects is emerging.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright for this article belongs to the Indian Academy of Sciences
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Biochemistry
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2012 12:53
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2012 12:53
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/44838

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