Parkin recruitment to impaired mitochondria for nonselective ubiquitylation is facilitated by MITOL

J Biol Chem. 2019 Jun 28;294(26):10300-10314. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.006302. Epub 2019 May 20.


PINK1 (PARK6) and PARKIN (PARK2) are causal genes of recessive familial Parkinson's disease. Parkin is a ubiquitin ligase E3 that conjugates ubiquitin to impaired mitochondrial proteins for organelle degradation. PINK1, a Ser/Thr kinase that accumulates only on impaired mitochondria, phosphorylates two authentic substrates, the ubiquitin-like domain of Parkin and ubiquitin. Our group and others have revealed that both the subcellular localization and ligase activity of Parkin are regulated through interactions with phosphorylated ubiquitin. Once PINK1 localizes on impaired mitochondria, PINK1-catalyzed phosphoubiquitin recruits and activates Parkin. Parkin then supplies a ubiquitin chain to PINK1 for phosphorylation. The amplified ubiquitin functions as a signal for the sequestration and degradation of the damaged mitochondria. Although a bewildering variety of Parkin substrates have been reported, the basis for Parkin substrate specificity remains poorly understood. Moreover, the mechanism underlying initial activation and translocation of Parkin onto mitochondria remains unclear, because the presence of ubiquitin on impaired mitochondria is thought to be a prerequisite for the initial PINK1 phosphorylation process. Here, we show that artificial mitochondria-targeted proteins are ubiquitylated by Parkin, suggesting that substrate specificity of Parkin is not determined by its amino acid sequence. Moreover, recruitment and activation of Parkin are delayed following depletion of the mitochondrial E3, MITOL/March5. We propose a model in which the initial step in Parkin recruitment and activation requires protein ubiquitylation by MITOL/March5 with subsequent PINK1-mediated phosphorylation. Because PINK1 and Parkin amplify the ubiquitin signal via a positive feedback loop, the low substrate specificity of Parkin might facilitate this amplification process.

Keywords: Parkinson disease; mitophagy; parkin; ubiquitin; ubiquitin ligase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitination


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Ubiquitin
  • MARCHF5 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Protein Kinases
  • PTEN-induced putative kinase

Associated data

  • PDB/1GFL
  • PDB/1ANF