PloS one

Ubiquitination increases parkin activity to promote autophagic α-synuclein clearance.

PMID 24386307


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder associated with genetic and age related causes. Although autosomal recessive early onset PD linked to parkin mutations does not exhibit α-Synuclein accumulation, while autosomal dominant and sporadic PD manifest with α-Synuclein inclusions, loss of dopaminergic substantia nigra neurons is a common denominator in PD. Here we show that decreased parkin ubiquitination and loss of parkin stability impair interaction with Beclin-1 and alter α-Synuclein degradation, leading to death of dopaminergic neurons. Tyrosine kinase inhibition increases parkin ubiquitination and interaction with Beclin-1, promoting autophagic α-Synuclein clearance and nigral neuron survival. However, loss of parkin via deletion increases α-Synuclein in the blood compared to the brain, suggesting that functional parkin prevents α-Synuclein release into the blood. These studies demonstrate that parkin ubiquitination affects its protein stability and E3 ligase activity, possibly leading to α-Synuclein sequestration and subsequent clearance.