Counteracting PINK/Parkin deficiency in the activation of mitophagy: A potential therapeutic intervention for Parkinson’s disease

Alice Nardin, Emilie Schrepfer, Elena Ziviani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parkinson’s Disease (PD) related genes PINK1, a protein kinase [1], and Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase [2], operate within the same pathway [3-5], which controls, via specific elimination of dysfunctional mitochondria, the quality of the organelle network [6]. Parkin translocates to impaired mitochondria and drives their elimination via autophagy, a process known as mitophagy [6]. PINK1 regulates Parkin translocation through a not yet completely understood mechanism [7, 8]. Mitochondrial outer membrane proteins Mitofusin (MFN), VDAC, Fis1 and TOM20 were found to be targets for Parkin mediated ubiquitination [9-11]. By adding ubiquitin molecules to its targets expressed on mitochondria, Parkin tags and selects dysfunctional mitochondria for clearance, contributing to maintain a functional and healthy mitochondrial network. Abnormal accumulation of misfolded proteins and unfunctional mitochondria is a characteristic hallmark of PD pathology. Therefore a therapeutic approach to enhance clearance of misfolded proteins and potentiate the ubiquitin-proteosome system (UPS) could be instrumental to ameliorate the progression of the disease. Recently, much effort has been put to identify specific de-ubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) that oppose Parkin in the ubiquitination of its targets. Similar to other post-translational modifications, such as phosphorylation and acetylation, ubiquitination is also a reversible modification, mediated by a large family of DUBs [12]. DUBs inhibitors or activators can affect cellular response to stimuli that induce mitophagy via ubiquitination of mitochondrial outer membrane proteins MFN, VDAC, Fis1 and TOM20. In this respect, the identification of a Parkin-opposing DUB in the regulation of mitophagy, might be instrumental to develop specific isopeptidase inhibitors or activators that can modulate the fundamental biological process of mitochondria clearance and impact on cell survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-259
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Neuropharmacology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Drosophila
  • DUB
  • Mitofusin
  • Mitophagy
  • Parkin
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • PINK1
  • Ubiquitination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Counteracting PINK/Parkin deficiency in the activation of mitophagy: A potential therapeutic intervention for Parkinson’s disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this