Investigating the amino acid sequences of membrane bound dihydroorotate:quinone oxidoreductases (DHOQOs): Structural and functional implications

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Dihydroorotate:quinone oxidoreductases (DHOQOs) are membrane bound enzymes responsible for oxidizing dihydroorotate (DHO) to orotate with concomitant reduction of quinone to quinol. They have FMN as prosthetic group and are part of the monotopic quinone reductase superfamily. These enzymes are also members of the dihydroorotate dehydrogenases (DHODHs) family, which besides membrane bound DHOQOs, class 2, includes soluble enzymes which reduce either NAD+ or fumarate, class 1. As key enzymes in both the de novo pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway as well as in the energetic metabolism, inhibitors of DHOQOs have been investigated as leads for therapeutics in cancer, immunological disorders and bacterial/viral infections. This work is a thorough bioinformatic approach on the structural conservation and taxonomic distribution of DHOQOs. We explored previously established structural/functional hallmarks of these enzymes, while searching for uncharacterized common elements. We also discuss the cellular role of DHOQOs and organize the identified protein sequences within six sub-classes 2A to 2F, according to their taxonomic origin and sequence traits. We concluded that DHOQOs are present in Archaea, Eukarya and Bacteria, including the first recognition in Gram-positive organisms. DHOQOs can be the single dihydroorotate dehydrogenase encoded in the genome of a species, or they can coexist with other DHODHs, as the NAD+ or fumarate reducing enzymes. Furthermore, we show that the type of catalytic base present in the active site is not an absolute criterium to distinguish between class 1 and class 2 enzymes. We propose the existence of a quinone binding motif (“ExAH”) adjacent to a hydrophobic cavity present in the membrane interacting N-terminal domain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148321
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Flavoproteins
  • Monotopic quinone reductases
  • Nucleotide metabolism
  • Respiratory chain
  • Taxonomic profile


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