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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Biochemical analysis of Parkinson's disease-causing variants of Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase with monoubiquitylation capacity.

Mutations in the parkin gene, encoding an E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase, are a frequent cause of autosomal recessive parkinsonism and are also involved in sporadic Parkinson's disease. Loss of Parkin function is thought to compromise the polyubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation of specific substrates, leading to their deleterious accumulation. Several studies have analyzed the effects of parkin gene mutations on the biochemical properties of the protein. However, the absence of a cell-free system for studying intrinsic Parkin activity has limited the interpretation of these studies. Here we describe the biochemical characterization of Parkin and 10 pathogenic variants carrying amino-acid substitutions throughout the sequence. Mutations in the RING fingers or the ubiquitin-like domain decreased the solubility of the protein in detergent and increased its tendency to form visible aggregates. None of the mutations studied compromised the binding of Parkin to a series of known protein partners/substrates. Moreover, only two variants with substitutions of conserved cysteine residues of the second RING finger were inactive in a purely in vitro ubiquitylation assay, demonstrating that loss of ligase activity is a minor pathogenic mechanism. Interestingly, in this in vitro assay, Parkin catalyzed the linkage of single ubiquitin molecules only, whereas the ubiquitin-protein ligases CHIP and Mdm2 promoted the formation of polyubiquitin chains. Similarly, in mammalian cells Parkin promoted the multimonoubiquitylation of its substrate p38, rather than its polyubiquitylation. Thus, Parkin may mediate polyubiquitylation or proteasome-independent monoubiquitylation depending on the protein context. The discovery of monoubiquitylated Parkin species in cells hints at a novel post-translational modification potentially involved in the regulation of Parkin function.[1]


  1. Biochemical analysis of Parkinson's disease-causing variants of Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase with monoubiquitylation capacity. Hampe, C., Ardila-Osorio, H., Fournier, M., Brice, A., Corti, O. Hum. Mol. Genet. (2006) [Pubmed]
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