Ubiquinone, also called coenzyme Q, is a lipid subject to oxido-reduction cycles. It functions in the respiratory electron transport chain and plays a pivotal role in energy generating processes. In this review, we focus on the biosynthetic pathway and physiological role of ubiquinone in bacteria. We present the studies which, within a period of five decades, led to the identification and characterization of the genes named ubi and involved in ubiquinone production in Escherichia coli. When available, the structures of the corresponding enzymes are shown and their biological function is detailed. The phenotypes observed in mutants deficient in ubiquinone biosynthesis are presented, either in model bacteria or in pathogens. A particular attention is given to the role of ubiquinone in respiration, modulation of two-component activity and bacterial virulence. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: 18th European Bioenergetic Conference.
Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q or Q8) is a redox active lipid which functions in the respiratory electron transport chain and plays a crucial role in energy-generating processes. In both Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, the yigP gene is located between ubiE and ubiB, all three being likely to constitute an operon. In this work, we showed that the uncharacterized yigP gene was involved in Q8 biosynthesis in both strains, and we have renamed it ubiJ. Under aerobic conditions, an ubiJ mutant was found to be impaired for Q8 biosynthesis and for growth in rich medium but did not present any defect anaerobically. Surprisingly, the C-terminal 50 amino acids, predicted to interact with lipids, were sufficient to restore Q8 biosynthesis and growth of the ubiJ mutant. Salmonella ubiE and ubiB mutants were impaired in Q8 biosynthesis and in respiration using different electron acceptors. Moreover, ubiE, ubiJ, and ubiB mutants were all impaired for Salmonella intracellular proliferation in macrophages. Taken together, our data establish an important role for UbiJ in Q8 biosynthesis and reveal an unexpected link between Q8 and virulence. They also emphasize that Salmonella organisms in an intracellular lifestyle rely on aerobic respiration to survive and proliferate within macrophages.
All bactericidal antibiotics were recently proposed to kill by inducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, causing destabilization of iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters and generating Fenton chemistry. We find that the ROS response is dispensable upon treatment with bactericidal antibiotics. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Fe-S clusters are required for killing only by aminoglycosides. In contrast to cells, using the major Fe-S cluster biosynthesis machinery, ISC, cells using the alternative machinery, SUF, cannot efficiently mature respiratory complexes I and II, resulting in impendence of the proton motive force (PMF), which is required for bactericidal aminoglycoside uptake. Similarly, during iron limitation, cells become intrinsically resistant to aminoglycosides by switching from ISC to SUF and down-regulating both respiratory complexes. We conclude that Fe-S proteins promote aminoglycoside killing by enabling their uptake.
Coenzyme Q (ubiquinone or Q) is a redox-active lipid found in organisms ranging from bacteria to mammals in which it plays a crucial role in energy-generating processes. Q biosynthesis is a complex pathway that involves multiple proteins. In this work, we show that the uncharacterized conserved visC gene is involved in Q biosynthesis in Escherichia coli, and we have renamed it ubiI. Based on genetic and biochemical experiments, we establish that the UbiI protein functions in the C5-hydroxylation reaction. A strain deficient in ubiI has a low level of Q and accumulates a compound derived from the Q biosynthetic pathway, which we purified and characterized. We also demonstrate that UbiI is only implicated in aerobic Q biosynthesis and that an alternative enzyme catalyzes the C5-hydroxylation reaction in the absence of oxygen. We have solved the crystal structure of a truncated form of UbiI. This structure shares many features with the canonical FAD-dependent para-hydroxybenzoate hydroxylase and represents the first structural characterization of a monooxygenase involved in Q biosynthesis. Site-directed mutagenesis confirms that residues of the flavin binding pocket of UbiI are important for activity. With our identification of UbiI, the three monooxygenases necessary for aerobic Q biosynthesis in E. coli are known.
The multi-proteins Isc and Suf systems catalyse the biogenesis of [Fe-S] proteins. Here we investigate how NsrR and IscR, transcriptional regulators that sense NO and [Fe-S] homeostasis, acquire their [Fe-S] clusters under both normal and iron limitation conditions. Clusters directed at the apo-NsrR and apo-IscR proteins are built on either of the two scaffolds, IscU or SufB. However, differences arise in [Fe-S] delivery steps. In the case of NsrR, scaffolds deliver clusters to either one of the two ATCs, IscA and SufA, and, subsequently, to the non-Isc non-Suf ATC, ErpA. Nevertheless, a high level of SufA can bypass the requirement for ErpA. In the case of IscR, several routes occur. One does not include assistance of any ATC. Others implicate ATCs IscA or ErpA, but, surprisingly, SufA was totally absent from any IscR maturation pathways. Both IscR and NsrR have the intrinsic capacity to sense iron limitation. However, NsrR appeared to be efficiently matured by Isc and Suf, thereby preventing NsrR to act as a physiologically relevant iron sensor. This work emphasizes that different maturation pathways arise as a function of the apo-target considered, possibly in relation with the type of cluster, [2Fe-2S] versus [4Fe-4S], it binds.
Cysteine desulphurases are primary sources of sulphur that can eventually be used for Fe/S biogenesis or thiolation of various cofactors and tRNA. Escherichia coli contains three such enzymes, IscS, SufS and CsdA. The importance of IscS and SufS in Fe/S biogenesis is well established. The physiological role of CsdA in contrast remains uncertain. We provide here additional evidences for a functional redundancy between the three cysteine desulphurases in vivo. In particular, we show that a deficiency in isoprenoid biosynthesis is the unique cause of the lethality of the iscS sufS mutant. Moreover, we show that CsdA is engaged in two separate sulphur transfer pathways. In one pathway, CsdA interacts functionally with SufE-SufBCD proteins to assist Fe/S biogenesis. In another pathway, CsdA interacts with CsdE and a newly discovered protein, which we called CsdL, resembling E1-like proteins found in ubiquitin-like modification systems. We propose this new pathway to allow synthesis of an as yet to be discovered thiolated compound.
Iron sulfur (Fe/S) proteins are ubiquitous and participate in multiple biological processes, from photosynthesis to DNA repair. Iron and sulfur are highly reactive chemical species, and the mechanisms allowing the multiprotein systems ISC and SUF to assist Fe/S cluster formation in vivo have attracted considerable attention. Here, A-Type components of these systems (ATCs for A-Type Carriers) are studied by phylogenomic and genetic analyses. ATCs that have emerged in the last common ancestor of bacteria were conserved in most bacteria and were acquired by eukaryotes and few archaea via horizontal gene transfers. Many bacteria contain multiple ATCs, as a result of gene duplication and/or horizontal gene transfer events. Based on evolutionary considerations, we could define three subfamilies: ATC-I, -II and -III. Escherichia coli, which has one ATC-I (ErpA) and two ATC-IIs (IscA and SufA), was used as a model to investigate functional redundancy between ATCs in vivo. Genetic analyses revealed that, under aerobiosis, E. coli IscA and SufA are functionally redundant carriers, as both are potentially able to receive an Fe/S cluster from IscU or the SufBCD complex and transfer it to ErpA. In contrast, under anaerobiosis, redundancy occurs between ErpA and IscA, which are both potentially able to receive Fe/S clusters from IscU and transfer them to an apotarget. Our combined phylogenomic and genetic study indicates that ATCs play a crucial role in conveying ready-made Fe/S clusters from components of the biogenesis systems to apotargets. We propose a model wherein the conserved biochemical function of ATCs provides multiple paths for supplying Fe/S clusters to apotargets. This model predicts the occurrence of a dynamic network, the structure and composition of which vary with the growth conditions. As an illustration, we depict three ways for a given protein to be matured, which appears to be dependent on the demand for Fe/S biogenesis.
Biosynthesis of iron-sulphur (Fe-S) proteins is catalysed by multi-protein systems, ISC and SUF. However, non-ISC, non-SUF Fe-S biosynthesis factors have been described, both in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Here we report in vitro and in vivo investigations of such a non-ISC, non SUF component, the Nfu proteins. Phylogenomic analysis allowed us to define four subfamilies. Escherichia coli NfuA is within subfamily II. Most members of this subfamily have a Nfu domain fused to a degenerate A-type carrier domain (ATC*) lacking Fe-S cluster co-ordinating Cys ligands. The Nfu domain binds a [4Fe-4S] cluster while the ATC* domain interacts with NuoG (a complex I subunit) and aconitase B (AcnB). In vitro, holo-NfuA promotes maturation of AcnB. In vivo, NfuA is necessary for full activity of complex I under aerobic growth conditions, and of AcnB in the presence of superoxide. NfuA receives Fe-S clusters from IscU/HscBA and SufBCD scaffolds and eventually transfers them to the ATCs IscA and SufA. This study provides significant information on one of the Fe-S biogenesis factors that has been often used as a building block by ISC and/or SUF synthesizing organisms, including bacteria, plants and animals.
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