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.
Keywords: Aerobic respiration; Coenzyme Q; Escherichia coli; Q(8) biosynthesis; Salmonella; ubi genes.
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