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J Biol Chem. 1995 Dec 29;270(52):31065-70.

Rhodoquinone and complex II of the electron transport chain in anaerobically functioning eukaryotes.

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Laboratory of Veterinary Biochemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


Many anaerobically functioning eukaryotes have an anaerobic energy metabolism in which fumarate is reduced to succinate. This reduction of fumarate is the opposite reaction to succinate oxidation catalyzed by succinate-ubiquinone oxidoreductase, complex II of the aerobic respiratory chain. Prokaryotes are known to contain two distinct enzyme complexes and distinct quinones, menaquinone and ubiquinone (Q), for the reduction of fumarate and the oxidation of succinate, respectively. Parasitic helminths are also known to contain two different quinones, Q and rhodoquinone (RQ). This report demonstrates that RQ was present in all examined eukaryotes that reduce fumarate during anoxia, not only in parasitic helminths, but also in freshwater snails, mussels, lugworms, and oysters. It was shown that the measured RQ/Q ratio correlated with the importance of fumarate reduction in vivo. This is the first demonstration of the role of RQ in eukaryotes, other than parasitic helminths. Furthermore, throughout the development of the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica, a strong correlation was found between the quinone composition and the type of metabolism: the amount of Q was correlated with the use of the aerobic respiratory chain, and the amount of RQ with the use of fumarate reduction. It can be concluded that RQ is an essential component for fumarate reduction in eukaryotes, in contrast to prokaryotes, which use menaquinone in this process. Analyses of enzyme kinetics, as well as the known differences in primary structures of prokaryotic and eukaryotic complexes that reduce fumarate, support the idea that fumarate-reducing eukaryotes possess an enzyme complex for the reduction of fumarate, structurally related to the succinate dehydrogenase-type complex II, but with the functional characteristics of the prokaryotic fumarate reductases.

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