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

Li Zhang, Mika Shimoji, Bobby Thomas, Darren J. Moore, Seong Woon Yu, Neena I. Marupudi, Reidun Torp, Ingeborg A. Torgner, Ole P. Ottersen, Ted M. Dawson, Valina L. Dawson

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334 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2063-2073
Number of pages11
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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