Intragenic suppressor mutations of the COQ8 protein kinase homolog restore coenzyme Q biosynthesis and function in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

PLoS One. 2020 Jun 1;15(6):e0234192. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234192. eCollection 2020.


Saccharomyces cerevisiae Coq8 is a member of the ancient UbiB atypical protein kinase family. Coq8, and its orthologs UbiB, ABC1, ADCK3, and ADCK4, are required for the biosynthesis of coenzyme Q in yeast, E. coli, A. thaliana, and humans. Each Coq8 ortholog retains nine highly conserved protein kinase-like motifs, yet its functional role in coenzyme Q biosynthesis remains mysterious. Coq8 may function as an ATPase whose activity is stimulated by coenzyme Q intermediates and phospholipids. A key yeast point mutant expressing Coq8-A197V was previously shown to result in a coenzyme Q-less, respiratory deficient phenotype. The A197V substitution occurs in the crucial Ala-rich protein kinase-like motif I of yeast Coq8. Here we show that long-term cultures of mutants expressing Coq8-A197V produce spontaneous revertants with the ability to grow on medium containing a non-fermentable carbon source. Each revertant is shown to harbor a secondary intragenic suppressor mutation within the COQ8 gene. The intragenic suppressors restore the synthesis of coenzyme Q. One class of the suppressors fully restores the levels of coenzyme Q and key Coq polypeptides necessary for the maintenance and integrity of the high-molecular mass CoQ synthome (also termed complex Q), while the other class provides only a partial rescue. Mutants harboring the first class of suppressors grow robustly under respiratory conditions, while mutants containing the second class grow more slowly under these conditions. Our work provides insight into the function of this important yet still enigmatic Coq8 family.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Asparagine
  • Culture Media / chemistry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Protein Conformation
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / growth & development
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism
  • Suppression, Genetic*
  • Ubiquinone / biosynthesis*
  • Ubiquinone / genetics


  • COQ8 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Culture Media
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Ubiquinone
  • Asparagine

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, Grant MCB-1330803 to C.F.C. and Whitcome Predoctoral Individual Fellowship to M.C.B. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.