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See detailDissecting the role of the mitochondrial chaperone mortalin in Parkinson's disease: functional impact of disease-related variants on mitochondrial homeostasis.
Burbulla, Lena F.; Schelling, Carina; Kato, Hiroki et al

in Human molecular genetics (2010), 19(22), 4437-52

The mitochondrial chaperone mortalin has been linked to neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD) based on reduced protein levels in affected brain regions of PD patients and its interaction with the ... [more ▼]

The mitochondrial chaperone mortalin has been linked to neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD) based on reduced protein levels in affected brain regions of PD patients and its interaction with the PD-associated protein DJ-1. Recently, two amino acid exchanges in the ATPase domain (R126W) and the substrate-binding domain (P509S) of mortalin were identified in Spanish PD patients. Here, we identified a separate and novel variant (A476T) in the substrate-binding domain of mortalin in German PD patients. To define a potential role as a susceptibility factor in PD, we characterized the functions of all three variants in different cellular models. In vitro import assays revealed normal targeting of all mortalin variants. In neuronal and non-neuronal human cell lines, the disease-associated variants caused a mitochondrial phenotype of increased reactive oxygen species and reduced mitochondrial membrane potential, which were exacerbated upon proteolytic stress. These functional impairments correspond with characteristic alterations of the mitochondrial network in cells overexpressing mutant mortalin compared with wild-type (wt), which were confirmed in fibroblasts from a carrier of the A476T variant. In line with a loss of function hypothesis, knockdown of mortalin in human cells caused impaired mitochondrial function that was rescued by wt mortalin, but not by the variants. Our genetic and functional studies of novel disease-associated variants in the mortalin gene define a loss of mortalin function, which causes impaired mitochondrial function and dynamics. Our results support the role of this mitochondrial chaperone in neurodegeneration and underscore the concept of impaired mitochondrial protein quality control in PD. [less ▲]

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See detailReview: Familial Parkinson's disease--genetics, clinical phenotype and neuropathology in relation to the common sporadic form of the disease.
Schiesling, Carola; Kieper, Nicole; Seidel, Kay et al

in Neuropathology and applied neurobiology (2008), 34(3), 255-71

The identification of the first gene in familial Parkinson's disease (PD) only 10 years ago was a major step in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms in neurodegeneration. Alpha-synuclein ... [more ▼]

The identification of the first gene in familial Parkinson's disease (PD) only 10 years ago was a major step in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms in neurodegeneration. Alpha-synuclein aggregation was not only recognized as a key event in neurodegeneration in patients carrying mutations in this gene, but it turned out to be the most consistent marker to define Lewy body pathology also in non-heritable idiopathic PD (IPD). Subsequent comprehensive pathoanatomical studies of IPD brains led to a novel concept of an ascending pathological process in variable stages that are reflected by alpha-synuclein aggregation at specific predilection sites. To date, more than seven genes are known to cause familial PD. The fact that these genetic forms of Parkinsonism present with clinical features indistinguishable from IPD, but may display neuropathological features that are not consistent with IPD, underscores the need of a more differentiated approach to familial and sporadic forms of Parkinsonism. Indeed, in distinct populations, mutations in one single gene were found to cause the disease in up to 40% of patients formerly described as 'idiopathic' cases. These findings indicate that IPD, as defined by a late-onset disorder with no (apparent) genetic contribution, is part of a clinical syndrome that becomes more and more heterogeneous in terms of aetiology, with overlapping clinical and pathoanatomical features. Thus in the present review, we discuss clues from familial PD to our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of neurodegeneration with special consideration of the variable clinical and neuropathological aspects. [less ▲]

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See detailLoss-of-function of human PINK1 results in mitochondrial pathology and can be rescued by parkin.
Exner, Nicole; Treske, Bettina; Paquet, Dominik et al

in The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience (2007), 27(45), 12413-8

Degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra is characteristic for Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Mitochondrial dysfunction is believed to ... [more ▼]

Degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra is characteristic for Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Mitochondrial dysfunction is believed to contribute to the etiology of PD. Although most cases are sporadic, recent evidence points to a number of genes involved in familial variants of PD. Among them, a loss-of-function of phosphatase and tensin homolog-induced kinase 1 (PINK1; PARK6) is associated with rare cases of autosomal recessive parkinsonism. In HeLa cells, RNA interference-mediated downregulation of PINK1 results in abnormal mitochondrial morphology and altered membrane potential. Morphological changes of mitochondria can be rescued by expression of wild-type PINK1 but not by PD-associated PINK1 mutants. Moreover, primary cells derived from patients with two different PINK1 mutants showed a similar defect in mitochondrial morphology. Human parkin but not PD-associated mutants could rescue mitochondrial pathology in human cells like wild-type PINK1. Our results may therefore suggest that PINK1 deficiency in humans results in mitochondrial abnormalities associated with cellular stress, a pathological phenotype, which can be ameliorated by enhanced expression of parkin. [less ▲]

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