Coenzyme Q10 and related quinones oxidize H2S to polysulfides and thiosulfate

Kenneth R. Olson, Kasey J. Clear, Paul J. Derry, Yan Gao, Zhilin Ma, Gang Wu, Thomas A. Kent, Karl D. Straub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In the canonical pathway for mitochondrial H2S oxidation electrons are transferred from sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase (SQR) to complex III via ubiquinone (CoQ10). We previously observed that a number of quinones directly oxidize H2S and we hypothesize that CoQ10 may have similar properties. Here we examine H2S oxidation by CoQ10 and more hydrophilic, truncated forms, CoQ1 and CoQ0, in buffer using H2S and polysulfide fluorophores (AzMC and SSP4), silver nanoparticles to measure thiosulfate (H2S2O3), mass spectrometry to identify polysulfides and O2-sensitive optodes to measure O2 consumption. We show that all three quinones concentration-dependently catalyze the oxidization of H2S to polysulfides and thiosulfate in buffer with the potency CoQ0>CoQ1>CoQ10 and that CoQ0 specifically oxidizes H2S to per-polysulfides, H2S2,3,4. These reactions consume and require oxygen and are augmented by addition of SOD suggesting that the quinones, not superoxide, oxidize H2S. Related quinones, MitoQ, menadione and idebenone, oxidize H2S in similar reactions. Exogenous CoQ0 decreases cellular H2S and increases polysulfides and thiosulfate production and this is also O2-dependent, suggesting that the quinone has similar effects on sulfur metabolism in cells. Collectively, these results suggest an additional endogenous mechanism for H2S metabolism and a potential therapeutic approach in H2S-related metabolic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-131
Number of pages13
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Antioxidants
  • CoQ
  • Down syndrome
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Reactive sulfur species
  • Thiosulfates
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Hydrogen Sulfide/metabolism
  • Quinones
  • Silver
  • Sulfides/metabolism
  • Ubiquinone/metabolism
  • Metal Nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Biochemistry


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