Comparison of a coq7 deletion mutant with other respiration-defective mutants in fission yeast

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Among the steps in ubiquinone biosynthesis, that catalyzed by the product of the clk-1/coq7 gene has received considerable attention because of its relevance to life span in Caenorhabditis elegans. We analyzed the coq7 ortholog (denoted coq7) in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, to determine whether coq7 has specific roles that differ from those of other coq genes. We first confirmed that coq7 is necessary for the penultimate step in ubiquinone biosynthesis, from the observation that the deletion mutant accumulated the ubiquinone precursor demethoxyubiquinone-10 instead of ubiquinone-10. The coq7 mutant displayed phenotypes characteristic of other ubiquinone-deficient Sc. pombe mutants, namely, hypersensitivity to hydrogen peroxide, a requirement for antioxidants for growth on minimal medium, and an elevated production of sulfide. To compare these phenotypes with those of other respiration-deficient mutants, we constructed cytochrome c (cyc1) and coq3 deletion mutants. We also assessed accumulation of oxidative stress in various ubiquinone-deficient strains and in the cyc1 mutant by measuring mRNA levels of stress-inducible genes and the phosphorylation level of the Spc1 MAP kinase. Induction of ctt1, encoding catalase, and apt1, encoding a 25 kDa protein, but not that of gpx1, encoding glutathione peroxidase, was indistinguishable in four ubiquinone-deficient mutants, indicating that the oxidative stress response operates at similar levels in the tested strains. One new phenotype was observed, namely, loss of viability in stationary phase (chronological life span) in both the ubiquinone-deficient mutant and in the cyc1 mutant. Finally, Coq7 was found to localize in mitochondria, consistent with the possibility that ubiquinone biosynthesis occurs in mitochondria in yeasts. In summary, our results indicate that coq7 is required for ubiquinone biosynthesis and the coq7 mutant is not distinguishable from other ubiquinone-deficient mutants, except that its phenotypes are more pronounced than those of the cyc1 mutant.

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