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Keywords:

  • binding partners;
  • blue native gel electrophoresis;
  • mouse;
  • mutations;
  • Parkinson's disease

Abstract

Mutations in the gene for parkin, a 52-kDa E3 ubiquitin ligase, are a major cause of hereditary Parkinson's disease (PD). In vitro studies have identified a large number of parkin-interacting proteins. Whether parkin exists as a monomer or as part of a stable protein complex in vivo is uncertain. Here we demonstrate that endogenous parkin occurs in a stable, non-covalent, ∼110-kDa complex in native extracts from mouse brain, heart and skeletal muscle, while monomeric parkin is undetectable. Partial denaturation experiments indicate that this complex is at least a tetramer. Reported parkin-binding partners do not show detectable association with the parkin complex on native gels. Upon overexpression in COS1, SH-SY5Y or CHO cells, parkin accumulates predominantly as a monomer, suggesting that the interactors required for complex formation are available in limiting amounts in these cells. Importantly, PD-linked parkin mutations significantly impair parkin complex formation. These data demonstrate that parkin oligomerizes into a stable, non-covalent, heteromeric complex in vivo, and suggest that parkin may have as yet unidentified stable binding partners.