ubiI, a new gene in Escherichia coli coenzyme Q biosynthesis, is involved in aerobic C5-hydroxylation

J Biol Chem. 2013 Jul 5;288(27):20085-92. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.480368. Epub 2013 May 24.


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.

Keywords: Coenzyme Q; Crystal Structure; Escherichia coli; Flavin; Hydroxylase; Monooxygenase; ubi Genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis / physiology
  • Binding Sites / physiology
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Flavin-Adenine Dinucleotide / genetics
  • Flavin-Adenine Dinucleotide / metabolism*
  • Hydrolases / genetics
  • Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Hydroxylation / physiology
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / genetics
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Ubiquinone / biosynthesis*
  • Ubiquinone / genetics


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • UbiI protein, E coli
  • Ubiquinone
  • Flavin-Adenine Dinucleotide
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Hydrolases

Associated data

  • PDB/4K22