Enhanced J-protein interaction and compromised protein stability of mtHsp70 variants lead to mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson's disease

Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Aug 1;21(15):3317-32. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds162. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most prevalent progressive neurological disorder commonly associated with impaired mitochondrial function in dopaminergic neurons. Although familial PD is multifactorial in nature, a recent genetic screen involving PD patients identified two mitochondrial Hsp70 variants (P509S and R126W) that are suggested in PD pathogenesis. However, molecular mechanisms underlying how mtHsp70 PD variants are centrally involved in PD progression is totally elusive. In this article, we provide mechanistic insights into the mitochondrial dysfunction associated with human mtHsp70 PD variants. Biochemically, the R126W variant showed severely compromised protein stability and was found highly susceptible to aggregation at physiological conditions. Strikingly, on the other hand, the P509S variant exhibits significantly enhanced interaction with J-protein cochaperones involved in folding and import machinery, thus altering the overall regulation of chaperone-mediated folding cycle and protein homeostasis. To assess the impact of mtHsp70 PD mutations at the cellular level, we developed yeast as a model system by making analogous mutations in Ssc1 ortholog. Interestingly, PD mutations in yeast (R103W and P486S) exhibit multiple in vivo phenotypes, which are associated with 'mitochondrial dysfunction', including compromised growth, impairment in protein translocation, reduced functional mitochondrial mass, mitochondrial DNA loss, respiratory incompetency and increased susceptibility to oxidative stress. In addition to that, R103W protein is prone to aggregate in vivo due to reduced stability, whereas P486S showed enhanced interaction with J-proteins, thus remarkably recapitulating the cellular defects that are observed in human PD variants. Taken together, our findings provide evidence in favor of direct involvement of mtHsp70 as a susceptibility factor in PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / metabolism
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Genetic Variation*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Molecular Chaperones / genetics
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics*
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Protein Stability
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Transfection


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones