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EMBO J. 2014 Feb 18;33(4):341-55. doi: 10.1002/embj.201284290. Epub 2014 Jan 28.

Ret rescues mitochondrial morphology and muscle degeneration of Drosophila Pink1 mutants.

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Molecules - Signaling - Development, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany.

Erratum in

  • EMBO J. 2014 Apr 1:33(7):779.


Parkinson's disease (PD)-associated Pink1 and Parkin proteins are believed to function in a common pathway controlling mitochondrial clearance and trafficking. Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and its signaling receptor Ret are neuroprotective in toxin-based animal models of PD. However, the mechanism by which GDNF/Ret protects cells from degenerating remains unclear. We investigated whether the Drosophila homolog of Ret can rescue Pink1 and park mutant phenotypes. We report that a signaling active version of Ret (Ret(MEN₂B) rescues muscle degeneration, disintegration of mitochondria and ATP content of Pink1 mutants. Interestingly, corresponding phenotypes of park mutants were not rescued, suggesting that the phenotypes of Pink1 and park mutants have partially different origins. In human neuroblastoma cells, GDNF treatment rescues morphological defects of PINK1 knockdown, without inducing mitophagy or Parkin recruitment. GDNF also rescues bioenergetic deficits of PINK knockdown cells. Furthermore, overexpression of Ret(MEN₂B) significantly improves electron transport chain complex I function in Pink1 mutant Drosophila. These results provide a novel mechanism underlying Ret-mediated cell protection in a situation relevant for human PD.

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