Pharmacological inhibition of USP30 activates tissue-specific mitophagy

Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2021 Jul;232(3):e13666. doi: 10.1111/apha.13666. Epub 2021 Apr 29.


Aim: Mitophagy is the regulated process that targets damaged or dysfunctional mitochondria for lysosomal-mediated removal. This process is an essential element of mitochondrial quality control, and dysregulation of mitophagy may contribute to a host of diseases, most notably neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Mitochondria targeted for mitophagic destruction are molecularly marked by the ubiquitination of several outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) proteins. This ubiquitination is positively regulated, in part, by the mitochondrial-targeted kinase PINK1 and the E3 ubiquitin ligase Parkin. In contrast, the reverse phenomenon, deubiquitination, removes ubiquitin from Parkin substrates embedded in the OMM proteins, antagonizing mitophagy. Recent evidence suggests that the mitochondrial deubiquitinase USP30 negatively regulates Parkin-mediated mitophagy, providing opportunities to identify USP30 inhibitors and test for their effects in augmenting mitophagy. Here we will characterize a USP30 inhibitor and demonstrate how the pharmacological inhibition of USP30 can augment stress-induced mitophagic flux.

Methods: We have conducted mitophagy and mitochondrial analyses in cultured cells. We have determined the plasma pharmacokinetics of the USP30 inhibitor in mice and conducted analyses using the mt-Keima mice to measure in vivo mitophagy directly.

Results: The compound has minimal mitochondrial toxicity in cultured cells and is tolerated well in mice. Interestingly, we demonstrated tissue-specific induction of mitophagy following USP30 pharmacological inhibition. In particular, pharmacological inhibition of USP30 induces a significant increase in cardiac mitophagy without detriment to cardiac function.

Conclusion: Our data support the evidence that USP30 inhibition may serve as a specific strategy to selectively increase mitophagic flux, allowing for the development of novel therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: Mitophagy; PINK1; Parkin; USP30; mitochondrial deubiquitination; mt-Keima.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Mitochondrial Proteins* / metabolism
  • Mitophagy*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Thiolester Hydrolases / genetics
  • Thiolester Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination


  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Protein Kinases
  • Thiolester Hydrolases