The PARK7 gene encodes a protein, DJ-1, with several functions such as protection of cells from oxidative stress, sperm maturation and fertilization, and chaperone activity. Mutations in the PARK7 gene are associated with autosomal recessive early-onset Parkinson's disease (PD). DJ-1 has been reported to be expressed in multiple cells in the central nerve system. Here, by using both native and denatured Western blots, we examined levels of total DJ-1 and high molecular weight complexes of DJ-1 (HMW) in both the substantia nigra and cortex from rapidly autopsied 18 PD and 9 non-pathological control (NPC) brains. We have discovered that the level of total DJ-1 protein is significantly reduced in the substantia nigra in brains of sporadic PD patients. Moreover, in the PD cortex mitochondria fraction, the HMW DJ-1 complex is significantly lower than in the NPC. These results suggest abnormal DJ-1 expression levels and DJ-1 complex changes may contribute to PD pathogenesis.
PMID: 19497122 [PubMed]