PARIS induced defects in mitochondrial biogenesis drive dopamine neuron loss under conditions of parkin or PINK1 deficiency

Sheila K. Pirooznia, Changqing Yuan, Mohammed Repon Khan, Senthilkumar S. Karuppagounder, Luan Wang, Yulan Xiong, Sung Ung Kang, Yunjong Lee, Valina L. Dawson, Ted M. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mutations in PINK1 and parkin cause autosomal recessive Parkinson's disease (PD). Evidence placing PINK1 and parkin in common pathways regulating multiple aspects of mitochondrial quality control is burgeoning. However, compelling evidence to causatively link specific PINK1/parkin dependent mitochondrial pathways to dopamine neuron degeneration in PD is lacking. Although PINK1 and parkin are known to regulate mitophagy, emerging data suggest that defects in mitophagy are unlikely to be of pathological relevance. Mitochondrial functions of PINK1 and parkin are also tied to their proteasomal regulation of specific substrates. In this study, we examined how PINK1/parkin mediated regulation of the pathogenic substrate PARIS impacts dopaminergic mitochondrial network homeostasis and neuronal survival in Drosophila. Methods: The UAS-Gal4 system was employed for cell-type specific expression of the various transgenes. Effects on dopamine neuronal survival and function were assessed by anti-TH immunostaining and negative geotaxis assays. Mitochondrial effects were probed by quantitative analysis of mito-GFP labeled dopaminergic mitochondria, assessment of mitochondrial abundance in dopamine neurons isolated by Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) and qRT-PCR analysis of dopaminergic factors that promote mitochondrial biogenesis. Statistical analyses employed two-tailed Student's T-test, one-way or two-way ANOVA as required and data considered significant when P < 0.05. Results: We show that defects in mitochondrial biogenesis drive adult onset progressive loss of dopamine neurons and motor deficits in Drosophila models of PINK1 or parkin insufficiency. Such defects result from PARIS dependent repression of dopaminergic PGC-1α and its downstream transcription factors NRF1 and TFAM that cooperatively promote mitochondrial biogenesis. Dopaminergic accumulation of human or Drosophila PARIS recapitulates these neurodegenerative phenotypes that are effectively reversed by PINK1, parkin or PGC-1α overexpression in vivo. To our knowledge, PARIS is the only co-substrate of PINK1 and parkin to specifically accumulate in the DA neurons and cause neurodegeneration and locomotor defects stemming from disrupted dopamine signaling. Conclusions: Our findings identify a highly conserved role for PINK1 and parkin in regulating mitochondrial biogenesis and promoting mitochondrial health via the PARIS/ PGC-1α axis. The Drosophila models described here effectively recapitulate the cardinal PD phenotypes and thus will facilitate identification of novel regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis for physiologically relevant therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalMolecular neurodegeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 5 2020


  • Climbing defects
  • Dopaminergic neurons
  • Mitochondria
  • PINK1
  • Parkin
  • Parkinson's disease
  • ZNF746

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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