PINK1-Phosphorylated Mitofusin 2 Is a Parkin Receptor for Culling Damaged Mitochondria

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Science  26 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6131, pp. 471-475
DOI: 10.1126/science.1231031

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Where Parkin Parks

Damaged mitochondria are removed from cells in a process known as mitophagy. Failure of this quality-control mechanism contributes to Parkinson's disease. When damaged mitochondria lose membrane depolarization, the protein kinase, PINK1, accumulates on the mitochondrial surface, recruits Parkin, and promotes mitophagy. Chen and Dorn (p. 471) describe another component of this process, mitofusin 2, which appears to function as the receptor for Parkin on the surface of damaged mitochondria.


Senescent and damaged mitochondria undergo selective mitophagic elimination through mechanisms requiring two Parkinson’s disease factors, the mitochondrial kinase PINK1 (PTEN-induced putative kinase protein 1; PTEN is phosphatase and tensin homolog) and the cytosolic ubiquitin ligase Parkin. The nature of the PINK-Parkin interaction and the identity of key factors directing Parkin to damaged mitochondria are unknown. We show that the mitochondrial outer membrane guanosine triphosphatase mitofusin (Mfn) 2 mediates Parkin recruitment to damaged mitochondria. Parkin bound to Mfn2 in a PINK1-dependent manner; PINK1 phosphorylated Mfn2 and promoted its Parkin-mediated ubiqitination. Ablation of Mfn2 in mouse cardiac myocytes prevented depolarization-induced translocation of Parkin to the mitochondria and suppressed mitophagy. Accumulation of morphologically and functionally abnormal mitochondria induced respiratory dysfunction in Mfn2-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts and cardiomyocytes and in Parkin-deficient Drosophila heart tubes, causing dilated cardiomyopathy. Thus, Mfn2 functions as a mitochondrial receptor for Parkin and is required for quality control of cardiac mitochondria.

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