Arabidopsis AtPARK13, which confers thermotolerance, targets misfolded proteins [Neurobiology]

April 9th, 2014 by Basak, I., Pal, R., Patil, K. S., Dunne, A., Ho, H.–P., Lee, S., Peiris, D., Maple–Grodem, J., Odell, M., Chang, E. J., Larsen, J. P., Moller, S. G.

Mutations in HTRA2/Omi/PARK13 have been implicated in Parkinsons disease (PD). PARK13 is a neuroprotective serine protease, however, little is known how PARK13 confers stress protection and which protein targets are directly affected by PARK13. We have reported that Arabidopsis thaliana represents a complementary PD model and here we demonstrate that AtPARK13, similar to human PARK13 (hPARK13), is a mitochondrial protease. We show that the expression/accumulation of AtPARK13 transcripts are induced by heat stress but not by other stress conditions, including oxidative stress and metals. Our data shows that elevated levels of AtPARK13 confer thermotolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Increased temperatures accelerate protein unfolding and we demonstrate that although AtPARK13 can act on native protein substrates, unfolded proteins represent better AtPARK13 substrates. The results further show that AtPARK13 and hPARK13, can degrade the PD proteins α-synuclein (SNCA) and DJ-1/PARK7 directly, without autophagy involvement, and that misfolded SNCA and DJ-1 represent better substrates than their native counterparts. Comparative proteomic profiling revealed AtPARK13-mediated proteome changes and we identify four proteins that show altered abundance in response to AtPARK13 overexpression and elevated temperatures. Our study not only suggests that AtPARK13 confers thermotolerance by degrading misfolded protein targets but it also provides new insight into possible roles of this protease in neurodegeneration.