Crosstalk of organelles in Parkinson's disease - MiT family transcription factors as central players in signaling pathways connecting mitochondria and lysosomes

Mol Neurodegener. 2022 Jul 16;17(1):50. doi: 10.1186/s13024-022-00555-7.


Living organisms constantly need to adapt to their surrounding environment and have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to deal with stress. Mitochondria and lysosomes are central organelles in the response to energy and nutrient availability within a cell and act through interconnected mechanisms. However, when such processes become overwhelmed, it can lead to pathologies. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder (NDD) characterized by proteinaceous intracellular inclusions and progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons, which causes motor and non-motor symptoms. Genetic and environmental factors may contribute to the disease etiology. Mitochondrial dysfunction has long been recognized as a hallmark of PD pathogenesis, and several aspects of mitochondrial biology are impaired in PD patients and models. In addition, defects of the autophagy-lysosomal pathway have extensively been observed in cell and animal models as well as PD patients' brains, where constitutive autophagy is indispensable for adaptation to stress and energy deficiency. Genetic and molecular studies have shown that the functions of mitochondria and lysosomal compartments are tightly linked and influence each other. Connections between these organelles are constituted among others by mitophagy, organellar dynamics and cellular signaling cascades, such as calcium (Ca2+) and mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signaling and the activation of transcription factors. Members of the Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor family (MiT), including MITF, TFE3 and TFEB, play a central role in regulating cellular homeostasis in response to metabolic pressure and are considered master regulators of lysosomal biogenesis. As such, they are part of the interconnection between mitochondria and lysosome functions and therefore represent attractive targets for therapeutic approaches against NDD, including PD. The activation of MiT transcription factors through genetic and pharmacological approaches have shown encouraging results at ameliorating PD-related phenotypes in in vitro and in vivo models. In this review, we summarize the relationship between mitochondrial and autophagy-lysosomal functions in the context of PD etiology and focus on the role of the MiT pathway and its potential as pharmacological target against PD.

Keywords: Autophagy-lysosomal pathway; Lysosome; MITF; MiT Transcription factors; Mitochondria; Parkinson’s disease; TFE3; TFEB.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Mammals
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology