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Hum Mol Genet. 2005 Jul 15;14(14):2063-73. Epub 2005 Jun 8.

Mitochondrial localization of the Parkinson's disease related protein DJ-1: implications for pathogenesis.

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


Both homozygous (L166P, M26I, deletion) and heterozygous mutations (D149A, A104T) in the DJ-1 gene have been identified in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. The biochemical function and subcellular localization of DJ-1 protein have not been clarified. To date the localization of DJ-1 protein has largely been described in studies over-expressing tagged DJ-1 protein in vitro. It is not known whether the subcellular localization of over-expressed DJ-1 protein is identical to that of endogenously expressed DJ-1 protein both in vitro and in vivo. To clarify the subcellular localization and function of DJ-1, we generated three highly specific antibodies to DJ-1 protein and investigated the subcellular localization of endogenous DJ-1 protein in both mouse brain tissues and human neuroblastoma cells. We have found that DJ-1 is widely distributed and is highly expressed in the brain. By cell fractionation and immunogold electron microscopy, we have identified an endogenous pool of DJ-1 in mitochondrial matrix and inter-membrane space. To further investigate whether pathogenic mutations might prevent the distribution of DJ-1 to mitochondria, we generated human neuroblastoma cells stably transfected with wild-type (WT) or mutant (M26I, L166P, A104T, D149A) DJ-1 and performed mitochondrial fractionation and confocal co-localization imaging studies. When compared with WT and other mutants, L166P mutant exhibits largely reduced protein level. However, the pathogenic mutations do not alter the distribution of DJ-1 to mitochondria. Thus, DJ-1 is an integral mitochondrial protein that may have important functions in regulating mitochondrial physiology. Our findings of DJ-1's mitochondrial localization may have important implications for understanding the pathogenesis of PD.

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