Mutations in the gene encoding DJ-1 are associated with autosomal recessive forms of Parkinson's disease (PD). DJ-1 plays a role in protection from oxidative stress, but how it functions as an "upstream" oxidative stress sensor and whether this relates to PD is still unclear. Intriguingly, DJ-1 may act as an RNA binding protein associating with specific mRNA transcripts in the human brain. Moreover, we previously reported that the yeast DJ-1 homolog Hsp31 localizes to stress granules (SGs) after glucose starvation, suggesting a role for DJ-1 in RNA dynamics. Here, we report that DJ-1 interacts with several SG components in mammalian cells and localizes to SGs, as well as P-bodies, upon induction of either osmotic or oxidative stress. By purifying the mRNA associated with DJ-1 in mammalian cells, we detected several transcripts and found that subpopulations of these localize to SGs after stress, suggesting that DJ-1 may target specific mRNAs to mRNP granules. Notably, we find that DJ-1 associates with SGs arising from N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) excitotoxicity in primary neurons and parkinsonism-inducing toxins in dopaminergic cell cultures. Thus, our results indicate that DJ-1 is associated with cytoplasmic RNA granules arising during stress and neurodegeneration, providing a possible link between DJ-1 and RNA dynamics which may be relevant for PD pathogenesis.
Keywords: DJ-1; Parkinson’s disease; RNA-binding proteins; Stress granules.