Parkin, a RING-between-RING-type E3 ubiquitin ligase associated with Parkinson's disease, has a wide neuroprotective activity, preventing cell death in various stress paradigms. We identified a stress-protective pathway regulated by parkin that links NF-κB signaling and mitochondrial integrity via linear ubiquitination. Under cellular stress, parkin is recruited to the linear ubiquitin assembly complex and increases linear ubiquitination of NF-κB essential modulator (NEMO), which is essential for canonical NF-κB signaling. As a result, the mitochondrial guanosine triphosphatase OPA1 is transcriptionally upregulated via NF-κB-responsive promoter elements for maintenance of mitochondrial integrity and protection from stress-induced cell death. Parkin-induced stress protection is lost in the absence of either NEMO or OPA1, but not in cells defective for the mitophagy pathway. Notably, in parkin-deficient cells linear ubiquitination of NEMO, activation of NF-κB, and upregulation of OPA1 are significantly reduced in response to TNF-α stimulation, supporting the physiological relevance of parkin in regulating this antiapoptotic pathway.
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