Impaired mitochondrial transport and Parkin-independent degeneration of respiratory chain-deficient dopamine neurons in vivo

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 2;108(31):12937-42. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103295108. Epub 2011 Jul 18.


Mitochondrial dysfunction is heavily implicated in Parkinson disease (PD) as exemplified by the finding of an increased frequency of respiratory chain-deficient dopamine (DA) neurons in affected patients. An inherited form of PD is caused by impaired function of Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase reported to translocate to defective mitochondria in vitro to facilitate their clearance. We have developed a reporter mouse to assess mitochondrial morphology in DA neurons in vivo and show here that respiratory chain deficiency leads to fragmentation of the mitochondrial network and to the formation of large cytoplasmic bodies derived from mitochondria. Surprisingly, the dysfunctional mitochondria do not recruit Parkin in vivo, and neither the clearance of defective mitochondria nor the neurodegeneration phenotype is affected by the absence of Parkin. We also show that anterograde axonal transport of mitochondria is impaired in respiratory chain-deficient DA neurons, leading to a decreased supply of mitochondria to the axonal terminals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Female
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / pathology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Protein Transport
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism*


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • parkin protein
  • Dopamine