Nuclear Parkin Activates the ERRα Transcriptional Program and Drives Widespread Changes in Gene Expression Following Hypoxia

Sci Rep. 2020 May 22;10(1):8499. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-65438-7.


Parkin is an E3 ubiquitin ligase well-known for facilitating clearance of damaged mitochondria by ubiquitinating proteins on the outer mitochondrial membrane. However, knowledge of Parkin's functions beyond mitophagy is still limited. Here, we demonstrate that Parkin has functions in the nucleus and that Parkinson's disease-associated Parkin mutants, ParkinR42P and ParkinG430D, are selectively excluded from the nucleus. Further, Parkin translocates to the nucleus in response to hypoxia which correlates with increased ubiquitination of nuclear proteins. The serine-threonine kinase PINK1 is responsible for recruiting Parkin to mitochondria, but translocation of Parkin to the nucleus occurs independently of PINK1. Transcriptomic analyses of HeLa cells overexpressing wild type or a nuclear-targeted Parkin revealed that during hypoxia, Parkin contributes to both increased and decreased transcription of genes involved in regulating multiple metabolic pathways. Furthermore, a proteomics screen comparing ubiquitinated proteins in hearts from Parkin-/- and Parkin transgenic mice identified the transcription factor estrogen-related receptor α (ERRα) as a potential Parkin target. Co-immunoprecipitation confirmed that nuclear-targeted Parkin interacts with and ubiquitinates ERRα. Further analysis uncovered that nuclear Parkin increases the transcriptional activity of ERRα. Overall, our study supports diverse roles for Parkin and demonstrates that nuclear Parkin regulates transcription of genes involved in multiple metabolic pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Mitophagy*
  • Myocardial Infarction / genetics
  • Myocardial Infarction / metabolism
  • Myocardial Infarction / pathology*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Transcriptome
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / physiology*
  • Ubiquitination


  • ERRalpha estrogen-related receptor
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • parkin protein