CoQ(6) (coenzyme Q(6)) biosynthesis in yeast is a well-regulated process that requires the final conversion of the late intermediate DMQ(6) (demethoxy-CoQ(6)) into CoQ(6) in order to support respiratory metabolism in yeast. The gene CAT5/COQ7 encodes the Cat5/Coq7 protein that catalyses the hydroxylation step of DMQ(6) conversion into CoQ(6). In the present study, we demonstrated that yeast Coq7 recombinant protein purified in bacteria can be phosphorylated in vitro using commercial PKA (protein kinase A) or PKC (protein kinase C) at the predicted amino acids Ser(20), Ser(28) and Thr(32). The total absence of phosphorylation in a Coq7p version containing alanine instead of these phospho-amino acids, the high extent of phosphorylation produced and the saturated conditions maintained in the phosphorylation assay indicate that probably no other putative amino acids are phosphorylated in Coq7p. Results from in vitro assays have been corroborated using phosphorylation assays performed in purified mitochondria without external or commercial kinases. Coq7p remains phosphorylated in fermentative conditions and becomes dephosphorylated when respiratory metabolism is induced. The substitution of phosphorylated residues to alanine dramatically increases CoQ(6) levels (256%). Conversely, substitution with negatively charged residues decreases CoQ(6) content (57%). These modifications produced in Coq7p also alter the ratio between DMQ(6) and CoQ(6) itself, indicating that the Coq7p phosphorylation state is a regulatory mechanism for CoQ(6) synthesis.
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