PD (Parkinson's disease) is a complex disorder that is associated with neuronal loss or dysfunction caused by genetic risks, environmental factors and advanced aging. It has been reported that DJ-1 mutations rendered neurons sensitive to oxidative damage, which led to the onset of familiar PD. However, the molecular mechanism is still unclear. In the present study we show that DJ-1 interacts with RACK1 (receptor of activated C kinase 1) and increases its dimerization and protein stability. The DJ-1 transgene protects cortical neurons from H2O2-induced apoptosis, and this protective effect is abrogated by knocking down RACK1. Similarly, deletion of DJ-1 in cortical neurons increases the sensitivity to H2O2, and the damage can be significantly rescued by DJ-1 or DJ-1/RACK1 co-transfection, but not by RACK1 alone. We observed further that the interaction of DJ-1 and RACK1 is disrupted by H2O2 or MPP+ (1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium) treatment, and the protein levels of DJ-1 and RACK1 decreased in neurodegenerative disease models. Taken together, the DJ-1–RACK1 complex protects neurons from oxidative stress-induced apoptosis, with the implication that DJ-1 and RACK1 might be novel targets in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

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