Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q or Q) functions in cells as a redox-active coenzyme of mitochondrial and plasma membrane electron transport, as well as an essential lipid soluble antioxidant. Human dietary supplementation with Q appears to have beneficial effects in slowing the progression of neuro- and muscle-degenerative diseases. However, Q is also involved in generating reactive oxygen species, through the adventitious reduction of dioxygen to superoxide by the ubisemiquinone radical, normally generated during mitochondrial electron transport. Thus, it is not clear how dietary supplementation with Q impacts the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde aspects of Q function. Cells are capable of synthesizing Q, but much remains to be learned about the sites of its synthesis, mechanisms of inter- and intra-cellular transport, and the regulation and enzymology of its biosynthesis. Research in my laboratory identified eight of the eleven polypeptides required for Q biosynthesis. The goals of my research are to characterize the Coq polypeptides responsible for production of Q and to determine how their activity can be modulated for optimal health.

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