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J Neurosci. 2005 Feb 23;25(8):2002-9.

Parkin mediates nonclassical, proteasomal-independent ubiquitination of synphilin-1: implications for Lewy body formation.

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  • 1Institute for Cell Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


It is widely accepted that the familial Parkinson's disease (PD)-linked gene product, parkin, functions as a ubiquitin ligase involved in protein turnover via the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Substrates ubiquitinated by parkin are hence thought to be destined for proteasomal degradation. Because we demonstrated previously that parkin interacts with and ubiquitinates synphilin-1, we initially expected synphilin-1 degradation to be enhanced in the presence of parkin. Contrary to our expectation, we found that synphilin-1 is normally ubiquitinated by parkin in a nonclassical, proteasomal-independent manner that involves lysine 63 (K63)-linked polyubiquitin chain formation. Parkin-mediated degradation of synphilin-1 occurs appreciably only at an unusually high parkin to synphilin-1 expression ratio or when primed for lysine 48 (K48)-linked ubiquitination. In addition we found that parkin-mediated ubiquitination of proteins within Lewy-body-like inclusions formed by the coexpression of synphilin-1, alpha-synuclein, and parkin occurs predominantly via K63 linkages and that the formation of these inclusions is enhanced by K63-linked ubiquitination. Our results suggest that parkin is a dual-function ubiquitin ligase and that K63-linked ubiquitination of synphilin-1 by parkin may be involved in the formation of Lewy body inclusions associated with PD.

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