Indexed on: 21 Mar '12Published on: 21 Mar '12Published in: Journal of Neurochemistry
Mitochondrial dysfunction represents a critical event during the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) and expanding evidences demonstrate that an altered balance in mitochondrial fission/fusion is likely an important mechanism leading to mitochondrial and neuronal dysfunction/degeneration. In this study, we investigated whether DJ-1 is involved in the regulation of mitochondrial dynamics and function in neuronal cells. Confocal and electron microscopic analysis demonstrated that M17 human neuroblastoma cells over-expressing wild-type DJ-1 (WT DJ-1 cells) displayed elongated mitochondria while M17 cells over-expressing PD-associated DJ-1 mutants (R98Q, D149A and L166P) (mutant DJ-1 cells) showed significant increase of fragmented mitochondria. Similar mitochondrial fragmentation was also noted in primary hippocampal neurons over-expressing PD-associated mutant forms of DJ-1. Functional analysis revealed that over-expression of PD-associated DJ-1 mutants resulted in mitochondria dysfunction and increased neuronal vulnerability to oxidative stress (H(2) O(2)) or neurotoxin. Further immunoblot studies demonstrated that levels of dynamin-like protein (DLP1), also known as Drp1, a regulator of mitochondrial fission, was significantly decreased in WT DJ-1 cells but increased in mutant DJ-1 cells. Importantly, DLP1 knockdown in these mutant DJ-1 cells rescued the abnormal mitochondria morphology and all associated mitochondria/neuronal dysfunction. Taken together, these studies suggest that DJ-1 is involved in the regulation of mitochondrial dynamics through modulation of DLP1 expression and PD-associated DJ-1 mutations may cause PD by impairing mitochondrial dynamics and function.