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1.  Phosphorylation of Mitochondrial Polyubiquitin by PINK1 Promotes Parkin Mitochondrial Tethering 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(12):e1004861.
The kinase PINK1 and the E3 ubiquitin (Ub) ligase Parkin participate in mitochondrial quality control. The phosphorylation of Ser65 in Parkin's ubiquitin-like (UBl) domain by PINK1 stimulates Parkin activation and translocation to damaged mitochondria, which induces mitophagy generating polyUb chain. However, Parkin Ser65 phosphorylation is insufficient for Parkin mitochondrial translocation. Here we report that Ser65 in polyUb chain is also phosphorylated by PINK1, and that phosphorylated polyUb chain on mitochondria tethers Parkin at mitochondria. The expression of Tom70MTS-4xUb SE, which mimics phospho-Ser65 polyUb chains on the mitochondria, activated Parkin E3 activity and its mitochondrial translocation. An E3-dead form of Parkin translocated to mitochondria with reduced membrane potential in the presence of Tom70MTS-4xUb SE, whereas non-phospho-polyUb mutant Tom70MTS-4xUb SA abrogated Parkin translocation. Parkin binds to the phospho-polyUb chain through its RING1-In-Between-RING (IBR) domains, but its RING0-linker is also required for mitochondrial translocation. Moreover, the expression of Tom70MTS-4xUb SE improved mitochondrial degeneration in PINK1-deficient, but not Parkin-deficient, Drosophila. Our study suggests that the phosphorylation of mitochondrial polyUb by PINK1 is implicated in both Parkin activation and mitochondrial translocation, predicting a chain reaction mechanism of mitochondrial phospho-polyUb production by which rapid translocation of Parkin is achieved.
Author Summary
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by degeneration of the midbrain dopaminergic system in addition to other nervous systems. PINK1 and parkin, which encode mitochondrial protein kinase and cytosolic Ub ligase, respectively, were identified as the genes responsible for the autosomal recessive form of juvenile Parkinson's disease. Activation of PINK1 upon reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential recruits Parkin from the cytosol activating its Ub ligase activity, which ensures removal of damaged mitochondria through mitophagy. However, how PINK1 recruits Parkin to the damaged mitochondria remained unclear. Here, we describe that the phosphorylation of polyUb chain by PINK1 is a key event to recruit Parkin on the mitochondria. Parkin binds to, and is activated by, phospho-polyUb generated by Parkin in collaboration with PINK1. Expression of a phospho-polyUb mimetic protein on mitochondria rescued mitochondrial degeneration caused by loss of PINK1 in Drosophila. Our study suggests the existence of an amplification cascade of Parkin activation and mitochondrial translocation, in which a ‘seed' of phosphorylated polyUb on the mitochondria, generated by PINK1 and Parkin, triggers a chain reaction of Parkin recruitment and activation.
PMCID: PMC4256268  PMID: 25474007
2.  PINK1-Mediated Phosphorylation of Parkin Boosts Parkin Activity in Drosophila 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(6):e1004391.
Two genes linked to early onset Parkinson's disease, PINK1 and Parkin, encode a protein kinase and a ubiquitin-ligase, respectively. Both enzymes have been suggested to support mitochondrial quality control. We have reported that Parkin is phosphorylated at Ser65 within the ubiquitin-like domain by PINK1 in mammalian cultured cells. However, it remains unclear whether Parkin phosphorylation is involved in mitochondrial maintenance and activity of dopaminergic neurons in vivo. Here, we examined the effects of Parkin phosphorylation in Drosophila, in which the phosphorylation residue is conserved at Ser94. Morphological changes of mitochondria caused by the ectopic expression of wild-type Parkin in muscle tissue and brain dopaminergic neurons disappeared in the absence of PINK1. In contrast, phosphomimetic Parkin accelerated mitochondrial fragmentation or aggregation and the degradation of mitochondrial proteins regardless of PINK1 activity, suggesting that the phosphorylation of Parkin boosts its ubiquitin-ligase activity. A non-phosphorylated form of Parkin fully rescued the muscular mitochondrial degeneration due to the loss of PINK1 activity, whereas the introduction of the non-phosphorylated Parkin mutant in Parkin-null flies led to the emergence of abnormally fused mitochondria in the muscle tissue. Manipulating the Parkin phosphorylation status affected spontaneous dopamine release in the nerve terminals of dopaminergic neurons, the survivability of dopaminergic neurons and flight activity. Our data reveal that Parkin phosphorylation regulates not only mitochondrial function but also the neuronal activity of dopaminergic neurons in vivo, suggesting that the appropriate regulation of Parkin phosphorylation is important for muscular and dopaminergic functions.
Author Summary
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by degeneration of the midbrain dopaminergic system in addition to other nervous systems. PINK1 and parkin, which encode protein kinase and ubiquitin-ligase, respectively, were identified as the genes responsible for the autosomal recessive form of juvenile Parkinson's disease. These two enzymes are involved in mitochondrial maintenance. Although we previously found that Parkin is phosphorylated by PINK1 in mammalian cultured cells, the physiological significance of this interaction in vivo remained unclear. Here, we describe that the phosphorylation of Parkin altered mitochondrial morphology and function in muscle tissue through the degradation of mitochondrial GTPase proteins (such as Mitofusin and Miro) and a mitochondrial respiratory complex I subunit by increasing its ubiquitin-ligase activity. We also found that the dopaminergic expression of both constitutively phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated forms of Parkin affects the flight activity and shortens the lifespan of flies, suggesting that the appropriate phosphorylation of Parkin is important for both dopaminergic activity and the survival of dopaminergic neurons.
PMCID: PMC4046931  PMID: 24901221
3.  Peripheral, Central and Behavioral Responses to the Cuticular Pheromone Bouquet in Drosophila melanogaster Males 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19770.
Pheromonal communication is crucial with regard to mate choice in many animals including insects. Drosophila melanogaster flies produce a pheromonal bouquet with many cuticular hydrocarbons some of which diverge between the sexes and differently affect male courtship behavior. Cuticular pheromones have a relatively high weight and are thought to be — mostly but not only — detected by gustatory contact. However, the response of the peripheral and central gustatory systems to these substances remains poorly explored. We measured the effect induced by pheromonal cuticular mixtures on (i) the electrophysiological response of peripheral gustatory receptor neurons, (ii) the calcium variation in brain centers receiving these gustatory inputs and (iii) the behavioral reaction induced in control males and in mutant desat1 males, which show abnormal pheromone production and perception. While male and female pheromones induced inhibitory-like effects on taste receptor neurons, the contact of male pheromones on male fore-tarsi elicits a long-lasting response of higher intensity in the dedicated gustatory brain center. We found that the behavior of control males was more strongly inhibited by male pheromones than by female pheromones, but this difference disappeared in anosmic males. Mutant desat1 males showed an increased sensitivity of their peripheral gustatory neurons to contact pheromones and a behavioral incapacity to discriminate sex pheromones. Together our data indicate that cuticular hydrocarbons induce long-lasting inhibitory effects on the relevant taste pathway which may interact with the olfactory pathway to modulate pheromonal perception.
PMCID: PMC3098836  PMID: 21625481
4.  An Inhibitory Sex Pheromone Tastes Bitter for Drosophila Males 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(8):e661.
Sexual behavior requires animals to distinguish between the sexes and to respond appropriately to each of them. In Drosophila melanogaster, as in many insects, cuticular hydrocarbons are thought to be involved in sex recognition and in mating behavior, but there is no direct neuronal evidence of their pheromonal effect. Using behavioral and electrophysiological measures of responses to natural and synthetic compounds, we show that Z-7-tricosene, a Drosophila male cuticular hydrocarbon, acts as a sex pheromone and inhibits male-male courtship. These data provide the first direct demonstration that an insect cuticular hydrocarbon is detected as a sex pheromone. Intriguingly, we show that a particular type of gustatory neurons of the labial palps respond both to Z-7-tricosene and to bitter stimuli. Cross-adaptation between Z-7-tricosene and bitter stimuli further indicates that these two very different substances are processed by the same neural pathways. Furthermore, the two substances induced similar behavioral responses both in courtship and feeding tests. We conclude that the inhibitory pheromone tastes bitter to the fly.
PMCID: PMC1937024  PMID: 17710124

Results 1-4 (4)