Amyloid aggregates of the deubiquitinase OTUB1 are neurotoxic, suggesting that they contribute to the development of Parkinson's disease

J Biol Chem. 2020 Mar 13;295(11):3466-3484. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.009546. Epub 2020 Jan 31.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a multifactorial malady and the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by loss of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain. A hallmark of PD pathology is the formation of intracellular protein inclusions, termed Lewy bodies (LBs). Recent MS studies have shown that OTU deubiquitinase ubiquitin aldehyde-binding 1 (OTUB1), a deubiquitinating enzyme of the OTU family, is enriched together with α-synuclein in LBs from individuals with PD and is also present in amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. In the present study, using mammalian cell cultures and a PD mouse model, along with CD spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, immunofluorescence-based imaging, and various biochemical assays, we demonstrate that after heat-induced protein aggregation, OTUB1 reacts strongly with both anti-A11 and anti-osteocalcin antibodies, detecting oligomeric, prefibrillar structures or fibrillar species of amyloidogenic proteins, respectively. Further, recombinant OTUB1 exhibited high thioflavin-T and Congo red binding and increased β-sheet formation upon heat induction. The oligomeric OTUB1 aggregates were highly cytotoxic, characteristic of many amyloid proteins. OTUB1 formed inclusions in neuronal cells and co-localized with thioflavin S and with α-synuclein during rotenone-induced stress. It also co-localized with the disease-associated variant pS129-α-synuclein in rotenone-exposed mouse brains. Interestingly, OTUB1 aggregates were also associated with severe cytoskeleton damage, rapid internalization inside the neuronal cells, and mitochondrial damage, all of which contribute to neurotoxicity. In conclusion, the results of our study indicate that OTUB1 may contribute to LB pathology through its amyloidogenic properties.

Keywords: Lewy body; OTU deubiquitinase ubiquitin aldehyde-binding 1 (OTUB1); Parkinson's disease; amyloid; neurodegeneration; neurotoxicity; otubain-1; pS129- alpha-synuclein; protein aggregation; protein misfolding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Amyloid / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cytoskeleton / drug effects
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Deubiquitinating Enzymes / chemistry
  • Deubiquitinating Enzymes / toxicity*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endocytosis / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Models, Biological
  • Nanostructures / chemistry
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurotoxins / toxicity*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Phosphoserine / metabolism
  • Protein Aggregates*
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Rotenone
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism


  • Amyloid
  • Neurotoxins
  • Protein Aggregates
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • Rotenone
  • Phosphoserine
  • Deubiquitinating Enzymes