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J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2006 Nov-Dec;53(6):435-44.

Ubiquinone synthesis and its regulation in Pneumocystis carinii.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221, USA.


The opportunistic pathogen Pneumocystis causes a type of pneumonia in individuals with defective immune systems such as AIDS patients. Atovaquone, an analog of ubiquinone (coenzyme Q [CoQ]), is effective in clearing mild to moderate cases of the infection. Rat-derived Pneumocystis carinii was the first organism in which CoQ synthesis was clearly demonstrated to occur in both mitochondrial and microsomal subcellular fractions. Atovaquone inhibits microsomal CoQ synthesis with no effect on mitochondrial CoQ synthesis. We here report on additional studies evaluating CoQ synthesis and its regulation in the organism. Buparvaquone also inhibited CoQ synthesis and it reduced the synthesis of all four CoQ homologs in the microsomal but not the mitochondrial fraction. Glyphosate, which inhibits a reaction in the de novo synthesis of the benzoquinone moiety of CoQ reduced cellular ATP levels. Bacterial and plant quinones, and several chemically synthesized phenolics, flavanoids, and naphthoquinones that inhibit electron transport in other organisms were shown to reduce CoQ synthesis in P. carinii. The inhibitory action of naphthoquinone compounds appeared to depend on their molecular size and structural flexibility rather than redox potential. Results of experiments examining the synthesis of the polyprenyl chain of CoQ were consistent with negative feedback control of CoQ synthesis. These studies on P. carinii suggest that cellular sites and the control of CoQ synthesis in different organisms and cell types might be more diverse than previously thought.

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