PINK1 and Parkin complementarily protect dopaminergic neurons in vertebrates

Hideaki Matsui, Roberto Gavinio, Takeshi Asano, Norihito Uemura, Hidefumi Ito, Yoshihito Taniguchi, Yoshito Kobayashi, Takakuni Maki, Jie Shen, Shunichi Takeda, Kengo Uemura, Hodaka Yamakado, Ryosuke Takahashi
Human Molecular Genetics 2013 June 15, 22 (12): 2423-34
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by selective dopaminergic cell loss in the substantia nigra, but its pathogenesis remains unclear. The recessively inherited familial PD genes PARK2 and PARK6 have been attributed to mutations in the Parkin and PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1) genes, respectively. Recent reports suggest that PINK1 works upstream of Parkin in the same pathway to regulate mitochondrial dynamics and/or conduct autophagic clearance of damaged mitochondria. This phenomenon is preserved from Drosophila to human cell lines but has not been demonstrated in a vertebrate animal model in vivo. Here, we developed a medaka fish (Oryzias latipes) model that is deficient in Pink1 and Parkin. We found that despite the lack of a conspicuous phenotype in single mutants for Pink1 or Parkin, medaka that are deficient in both genes developed phenotypes similar to that of human PD: late-onset locomotor dysfunction, a decrease in dopamine levels and a selective degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. Further analysis also revealed defects in mitochondrial enzymatic activity as well as cell death. Consistently, PINK1 and Parkin double-deficient MEF showed a further decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and mitochondrial complex I activity as well as apoptosis compared with single-deficient MEF. Interestingly, these mitochondrial abnormalities in Parkin-deficient MEF were compensated by exogenous PINK1, but not by disease-related mutants. These results suggest that PINK1 and Parkin work in a complementary way to protect dopaminergic neurons by maintaining mitochondrial function in vertebrates.

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