Tufi, R, et al. Enhancing nucleotide metabolism protects against mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegeneration in a PINK1 model of Parkinson's disease. Nat Cell Biol, 2014. 16(2):157-66.


Mutations in PINK1 cause early-onset Parkinson's disease (PD). Studies in Drosophila melanogaster have highlighted mitochondrial dysfunction on loss of Pink1 as a central mechanism of PD pathogenesis. Here we show that global analysis of transcriptional changes in Drosophila pink1 mutants reveals an upregulation of genes involved in nucleotide metabolism, critical for neuronal mitochondrial DNA synthesis. These key transcriptional changes were also detected in brains of PD patients harbouring PINK1 mutations. We demonstrate that genetic enhancement of the nucleotide salvage pathway in neurons of pink1 mutant flies rescues mitochondrial impairment. In addition, pharmacological approaches enhancing nucleotide pools reduce mitochondrial dysfunction caused by Pink1 deficiency. We conclude that loss of Pink1 evokes the activation of a previously unidentified metabolic reprogramming pathway to increase nucleotide pools and promote mitochondrial biogenesis. We propose that targeting strategies enhancing nucleotide synthesis pathways may reverse mitochondrial dysfunction and rescue neurodegeneration in PD and, potentially, other diseases linked to mitochondrial impairment.

Metabolon results led to:

  • Identification of a novel nucleotide salvage pathway in the PINK1 model of Parkinson's
  • A potential strategy for neuroprotective therapy
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