Systematic Functional Analysis of PINK1 and PRKN Coding Variants

Benjamin J. Broadway, Paige K. Boneski, Jenny M. Bredenberg, Ana Kolicheski, Xu Hou, Alexandra I. Soto-Beasley, Owen A. Ross, Wolfdieter Springer, Fabienne C. Fiesel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Loss of either PINK1 or PRKN causes an early onset Parkinson’s disease (PD) phenotype. Functionally, PINK1 and PRKN work together to mediate stress-activated mitochondrial quality control. Upon mitochondrial damage, PINK1, a ubiquitin kinase and PRKN, a ubiquitin ligase, decorate damaged organelles with phosphorylated ubiquitin for sequestration and degradation in lysosomes, a process known as mitophagy. While several genetic mutations are established to result in loss of mitophagy function, many others have not been extensively characterized and are of unknown significance. Here, we analyzed a set of twenty variants, ten in each gene, focusing on understudied variants mostly from the Parkinson’s progressive marker initiative, with sensitive assays to define potential functional deficits. Our results nominate specific rare genetic PINK1 and PRKN variants that cause loss of enzymatic function in line with a potential causative role for PD. Additionally, we identify several variants with intermediate phenotypes and follow up on two of them by gene editing midbrain-derived neuronal precursor cells. Thereof derived isogenic neurons show a stability defect of the rare PINK1 D525N mutation, while the common PINK1 Q115L substitution results in reduced kinase activity. Our strategy to analyze variants with sensitive functional readouts will help aid diagnostics and disease treatment in line with current genomic and therapeutic advances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2426
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • PD genes
  • PINK1
  • PRKN
  • Parkin
  • Parkinson
  • mitophagy
  • ubiquitin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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