Document Type



Escherichia coli and Salmonella contain the naphthoquinones menaquinone (MK; vitamin K2) and demethylmenaquinone and the benzoquinone ubiquinone (coenzyme Q; Q). Both quinones are derived from the shikimate pathway, which has been called a "metabolic tree with many branches." There are two different pathways for the biosynthesis of the naphthoquinones. The vast majority of prokaryotes, including E. coli and Salmonella, and the plants use the o-succinylbenzoate pathway, while a minority uses the futalosine pathway. The quinone nucleus of Q is derived directly from chorismate, while that of MK is derived from chorismate via isochorismate. The prenyl side chains of both quinones are from isopentenyl diphosphate formed by the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (non-mevalonate) pathway and the methyl groups are from S-adenosylmethionine. In addition, MK biosynthesis requires 2-ketoglutarate and cofactors ATP, coenzyme A, and thiamine pyrophosphate. Despite the fact that both quinones originate from the shikimate pathway, there are important differences in their biosyntheses. The prenyl side chain in MK biosynthesis is introduced at the penultimate step, accompanied by decarboxylation, whereas in Q biosynthesis it is introduced at the second step, with retention of the carboxyl group. In MK biosynthesis, all the reactions of the pathway up to prenylation are carried out by soluble enzymes, whereas all the enzymes involved in Q biosynthesis except the first are membrane bound. In MK biosynthesis, the last step is a C-methylation; in Q biosynthesis, the last step is an O-methylation. In Q biosynthesis a second C-methylation and O-methylation take place in the middle part of the pathway. Despite the fact that Q and MK biosyntheses diverge at chorismate, the C-methylations in both pathways are carried out by the same methyltransferase.


10.1128/ecosalplus.||PMCID: PMC4172378

Publication Date


Original Citation

Meganathan, R, Kwon, O. 2009. Biosynthesis of Menaquinone (Vitamin K2) and Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q), EcoSal Plus 2009; doi:10.1128/ecosalplus.


Department of Biological Sciences

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences


37 pages




EcoSal Plus



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