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Science. 2013 Jun 21;340(6139):1451-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1237908. Epub 2013 May 9.

Structure of parkin reveals mechanisms for ubiquitin ligase activation.

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McGill Parkinson Program, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Mutations in the PARK2 (parkin) gene are responsible for an autosomal recessive form of Parkinson's disease. The parkin protein is a RING-in-between-RING E3 ubiquitin ligase that exhibits low basal activity. We describe the crystal structure of full-length rat parkin. The structure shows parkin in an autoinhibited state and provides insight into how it is activated. RING0 occludes the ubiquitin acceptor site Cys(431) in RING2, whereas a repressor element of parkin binds RING1 and blocks its E2-binding site. Mutations that disrupted these inhibitory interactions activated parkin both in vitro and in cells. Parkin is neuroprotective, and these findings may provide a structural and mechanistic framework for enhancing parkin activity.

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