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PINK1/Parkin-mediated mitophagy is dependent on VDAC1 and p62/SQSTM1


Parkinson's disease is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder. Mutations in PINK1 and PARKIN are the most frequent causes of recessive Parkinson's disease. However, their molecular contribution to pathogenesis remains unclear. Here, we reveal important mechanistic steps of a PINK1/Parkin-directed pathway linking mitochondrial damage, ubiquitylation and autophagy in non-neuronal and neuronal cells. PINK1 kinase activity and its mitochondrial localization sequence are prerequisites to induce translocation of the E3 ligase Parkin to depolarized mitochondria. Subsequently, Parkin mediates the formation of two distinct poly-ubiquitin chains, linked through Lys 63 and Lys 27. In addition, the autophagic adaptor p62/SQSTM1 is recruited to mitochondrial clusters and is essential for the clearance of mitochondria. Strikingly, we identified VDAC1 (voltage-dependent anion channel 1) as a target for Parkin-mediated Lys 27 poly-ubiquitylation and mitophagy. Moreover, pathogenic Parkin mutations interfere with distinct steps of mitochondrial translocation, ubiquitylation and/or final clearance through mitophagy. Thus, our data provide functional links between PINK1, Parkin and the selective autophagy of mitochondria, which is implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease.

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Figure 1: Pathogenic Parkin mutations interfere with mitochondrial translocation and/or mitochondrial clearance.
Figure 2: Mitophagy in neuronal Parkinson's disease-relevant SH-SY5Y cells is dependent on functional Parkin protein levels.
Figure 3: PINK1 expression is a prerequisite for Parkin activation/translocation.
Figure 4: Parkin-directed mitophagy involves poly-ubiquitin signals of specific lysine linkages.
Figure 5: Parkin-dependent mitophagy requires the ubiquitin-autophagy adaptor protein p62.
Figure 6: VDAC1 is the mitochondrial target of Parkin-catalysed ubiquitylation in response to mitochondrial membrane depolarization.
Figure 7: Pathogenic Parkin mutations fail to ubiquitylate VDAC1 in neuronal SH-SY5Y cells.
Figure 8: VDAC1 is required for PINK1/Parkin-directed mitophagy.


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We are grateful to O. Corti and R. Baer for providing Parkin and ubiquitin mutants, and to R. de Silva for providing the pDsRed2-Mito construct. We thank Thomas Gasser for support. This work was supported by grants from the fortüne-program of the Medical Faculty of the University of Tübingen to W.S. (1667-0-0 and 1842-0-0), by the German National Genome Research Network (NGFNplus, 01GS08134) to P.J.K., and by the Hertie Foundation. K.M.H. is a NEUROTRAIN Early Stage Research Training fellow funded through the European Union research program FP6.

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S.G., K.M.H., and W.S. were responsible for the experimental work. D.S. provided technical assistance. O.C.R. provided materials. S.G., F.C.F. and W.S. analysed data. F.C.F. and P.J.K. provided intellectual and/or financial support. W.S. planned the project, designed experiments and wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the data and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Philipp J. Kahle or Wolfdieter Springer.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Geisler, S., Holmström, K., Skujat, D. et al. PINK1/Parkin-mediated mitophagy is dependent on VDAC1 and p62/SQSTM1. Nat Cell Biol 12, 119–131 (2010).

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