Convergence of parkin, PINK1 and {alpha}-synuclein on stress-induced mitochondrial morphological remodelling [Molecular Bases of Disease]

April 10th, 2015 by Norris, K. L., Hao, R., Chen, L.-F., Lai, C.-H., Kapur, M., Shaughnessy, P. J., Chou, D., Yan, J., Taylor, J. P., Engelender, S., West, A. E., Lim, K.-L., Yao, T.-P.

Mutations in parkin (PARK2), an ubiquitin ligase, cause early onset Parkinson's disease. Parkin was shown to bind, ubiquitinate, and target depolarized mitochondria for destruction by autophagy. This process, mitophagy, is considered crucial for maintaining mitochondrial integrity and suppressing Parkinsonism. Here, we report that under moderate mitochondrial stress, parkin does not translocate to mitochondria to induce mitophagy; rather, it stimulates mitochondrial connectivity. Mitochondrial stress-induced fusion requires PINK1 (PARK6), mitofusins and parkin ubiquitin ligase activity. Upon exposure to mitochondrial toxins, parkin binds α-synuclein (PARK1), and in conjunction with the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Ubc13, stimulates K63-linked ubiquitination. Importantly, α-synuclein inactivation phenocopies parkin overexpression and suppresses stress-induced mitochondria fission, whereas Ubc13 inactivation abrogates parkin-dependent mitochondrial fusion. The convergence of parkin, PINK1 and α-synuclein on mitochondrial dynamics uncovers a common function of these PARK genes in the mitochondrial stress response and provides a potential physiological basis for the prevalence of α-synuclein pathology in Parkinson's disease.