Gemcitabine induces Parkin-independent mitophagy through mitochondrial-resident E3 ligase MUL1-mediated stabilization of PINK1

Ryoko Igarashi, Shun-Ichi Yamashita, Tomohiro Yamashita, Keiichi Inoue, Tomoyuki Fukuda, Takeo Fukuchi, Tomotake Kanki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Mitophagy plays an important role in the maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis. PTEN-induced kinase (PINK1), a key regulator of mitophagy, is degraded constitutively under steady-state conditions. During mitophagy, it becomes stabilized in the outer mitochondrial membrane, particularly under mitochondrial stress conditions, such as in treatment with uncouplers, generation of excessive mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, and formation of protein aggregates in mitochondria. Stabilized PINK1 recruits and activates E3 ligases, such as Parkin and mitochondrial ubiquitin ligase (MUL1), to ubiquitinate mitochondrial proteins and induce ubiquitin-mediated mitophagy. Here, we found that the anticancer drug gemcitabine induces the stabilization of PINK1 and subsequent mitophagy, even in the absence of Parkin. We also found that gemcitabine-induced stabilization of PINK1 was not accompanied by mitochondrial depolarization. Interestingly, the stabilization of PINK1 was mediated by MUL1. These results suggest that gemcitabine induces mitophagy through MUL1-mediated stabilization of PINK1 on the mitochondrial membrane independently of mitochondrial depolarization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1465
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 30 2020


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