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J Biol Chem. 2005 Dec 30;280(52):42655-68. Epub 2005 Oct 19.

Similar patterns of mitochondrial vulnerability and rescue induced by genetic modification of alpha-synuclein, parkin, and DJ-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118-2526, USA.


How genetic and environmental factors interact in Parkinson disease is poorly understood. We have now compared the patterns of vulnerability and rescue of Caenorhabditis elegans with genetic modifications of three different genetic factors implicated in Parkinson disease (PD). We observed that expressing alpha-synuclein, deleting parkin (K08E3.7), or knocking down DJ-1 (B0432.2) or parkin produces similar patterns of pharmacological vulnerability and rescue. C. elegans lines with these genetic changes were more vulnerable than nontransgenic nematodes to mitochondrial complex I inhibitors, including rotenone, fenperoximate, pyridaben, or stigmatellin. In contrast, the genetic manipulations did not increase sensitivity to paraquat, sodium azide, divalent metal ions (Fe(II) or Cu(II)), or etoposide compared with the nontransgenic nematodes. Each of the PD-related lines was also partially rescued by the antioxidant probucol, the mitochondrial complex II activator, D-beta-hydroxybutyrate, or the anti-apoptotic bile acid tauroursodeoxycholic acid. Complete protection in all lines was achieved by combining d-beta-hydroxybutyrate with tauroursodeoxycholic acid but not with probucol. These results show that diverse PD-related genetic modifications disrupt the mitochondrial function in C. elegans, and they raise the possibility that mitochondrial disruption is a pathway shared in common by many types of familial PD.

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