Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is essential for ATP production in the mitochondria, and is an important antioxidant in every biomembrane and lipoprotein. Due to its hydrophobicity, a binding and transfer protein for CoQ10 is plausible, but none have yet been isolated and characterized. Here we purified a CoQ10-binding protein from human urine and identified it to be saposin B, a housekeeping protein necessary for sphingolipid hydrolysis in lysosomes. We confirmed that cellular saposin B binds CoQ10 in human sperm and the hepatoma cell line HepG2 by using saposin B monoclonal antibody. The molar ratios of CoQ10 to saposin B were estimated to be 0.22 in urine, 0.003 in HepG2, and 0.12 in sperm. We then confirmed that aqueous saposin B extracts CoQ10 from hexane to form a saposin B-CoQ10 complex. Lipid binding affinity to saposin B decreased in the following order: CoQ10>CoQ9>CoQ7>>alpha-tocopherol>>cholesterol (no binding). The CoQ10-binding affinity to saposin B increased with pH, with maximal binding seen at pH 7.4. On the other hand, the CoQ10-donating activity of the saposin B-CoQ10 complex to erythrocyte ghost membranes increased with decreasing pH. These results suggest that saposin B binds and transports CoQ10 in human cells.
Keywords: HepG2; coenzyme Q10 binding protein; saposin B; sperm; urine.