Occurrence, biosynthesis and function of isoprenoid quinones

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Sep;1797(9):1587-605. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2010.06.007. Epub 2010 Jun 19.


Isoprenoid quinones are one of the most important groups of compounds occurring in membranes of living organisms. These compounds are composed of a hydrophilic head group and an apolar isoprenoid side chain, giving the molecules a lipid-soluble character. Isoprenoid quinones function mainly as electron and proton carriers in photosynthetic and respiratory electron transport chains and these compounds show also additional functions, such as antioxidant function. Most of naturally occurring isoprenoid quinones belong to naphthoquinones or evolutionary younger benzoquinones. Among benzoquinones, the most widespread and important are ubiquinones and plastoquinones. Menaquinones, belonging to naphthoquinones, function in respiratory and photosynthetic electron transport chains of bacteria. Phylloquinone K(1), a phytyl naphthoquinone, functions in the photosynthetic electron transport in photosystem I. Ubiquinones participate in respiratory chains of eukaryotic mitochondria and some bacteria. Plastoquinones are components of photosynthetic electron transport chains of cyanobacteria and plant chloroplasts. Biosynthetic pathway of isoprenoid quinones has been described, as well as their additional, recently recognized, diverse functions in bacterial, plant and animal metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzoquinones / metabolism*
  • Electron Transport*
  • Naphthoquinones / metabolism*
  • Plastoquinone / metabolism
  • Ubiquinone / metabolism
  • Vitamin E / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin E / metabolism
  • Vitamin K 1 / metabolism
  • Vitamin K 2 / metabolism


  • Benzoquinones
  • Naphthoquinones
  • Vitamin K 2
  • Ubiquinone
  • Vitamin E
  • tocopherylquinone
  • Vitamin K 1
  • Plastoquinone