Understanding Parkinson's Disease: Mechanisms of Action of DJ-1

Title: Understanding Parkinson's Disease: Mechanisms of Action of DJ-1
Authors: Rousseaux, Maxime
Date: 2012
Abstract: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the most common movement neurodegenerative disease affecting approximately 1% of the population over 60. Though originally thought to be sporadic in nature, a genetic component is increasingly being linked to the disease. Of these genes, mutations in DJ-1 (PARK7) cause early onset autosomal recessive PD. Initial workup of the DJ-1 protein has suggested that it may act in the cell by combatting oxidative stress though the mechanism by which it does so is unclear. Thus, though much work has attempted to elucidate a function at the biochemical, cellular and organismal level, the overt physiological role of DJ-1 remains elusive. In this dissertation, we explore the mechanisms through which DJ-1 confers neuroprotection, particularly in the case of oxidative stress insult. We demonstrate that DJ-1 acts through the pro-survival protein AKT to accomplish its neuroprotective function. Moreover, we note that DJ-1 likely serves its role as an antioxidant through the NRF2 master antioxidant regulator pathway a pathway that is, itself, likely to be regulated by AKT. Together, our results demonstrate that neuroprotection by DJ-1 is done through a signaling pathway involving both AKT and NRF2 and that disruption of the former in PD likely results in abolishing this signaling pathway. Finally, to generate a better animal model of PD, we demonstrate that backcrossing DJ-1 null mice - which originally did not demonstrate any gross histopathological or behavioral phenotypes – display unilateral dopaminergic degeneration that progresses to bilateral degeneration with aging, a feature reminiscent of classical PD progression. Collectively, this thesis takes a two-sided approach to address the biochemical and physiological functions of DJ-1 within the cell and the mouse in hopes of elucidating mechanisms of neuronal death to devise better translational therapies.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/22904
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -