The quinoid nucleus of the benzoquinone, ubiquinone (coenzyme Q; Q), is derived from the shikimate pathway in bacteria and eukaryotic microorganisms. Ubiquinone is not considered a vitamin since mammals synthesize it from the essential amino acid tyrosine. Escherichia coli and other Gram-negative bacteria derive the 4-hydroxybenzoate required for the biosynthesis of Q directly from chorismate. The yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, can either form 4-hydroxybenzoate from chorismate or tyrosine. However, unlike mammals, S. cerevisiae synthesizes tyrosine in vivo by the shikimate pathway. While the reactions of the pathway leading from 4-hydroxybenzoate to Q are the same in both organisms the order in which they occur differs. The 4-hydroxybenzoate undergoes a prenylation, a decarboxylation and three hydroxylations alternating with three methylation reactions, resulting in the formation of Q. The methyl groups for the methylation reactions are derived from S-adenosylmethionine. While the prenyl side chain is formed by the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (non-mevalonate) pathway in E. coli, it is formed by the mevalonate pathway in the yeast.
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