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The kinase PINK1 and ubiquitin ligase Parkin can regulate the selective elimination of damaged mitochondria through autophagy (mitophagy). Because of the demand on lysosomal function by mitophagy, we investigated a role for the transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of lysosomal biogenesis, in this process. We show that during mitophagy TFEB translocates to the nucleus and displays transcriptional activity in a PINK1- and Parkin-dependent manner. MITF and TFE3, homologues of TFEB belonging to the same microphthalmia/transcription factor E (MiT/TFE) family, are similarly regulated during mitophagy. Unlike TFEB translocation after starvation-induced mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 inhibition, Parkin-mediated TFEB relocalization required Atg9A and Atg5 activity. However, constitutively active Rag guanosine triphosphatases prevented TFEB translocation during mitophagy, suggesting cross talk between these two MiT/TFE activation pathways. Analysis of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-generated TFEB/MITF/TFE3/TFEC single, double, and triple knockout cell lines revealed that these proteins partly facilitate Parkin-mediated mitochondrial clearance. These results illuminate a pathway leading to MiT/TFE transcription factor activation, distinct from starvation-induced autophagy, which occurs during mitophagy.


Catherine L Nezich, Chunxin Wang, Adam I Fogel, Richard J Youle. MiT/TFE transcription factors are activated during mitophagy downstream of Parkin and Atg5. The Journal of cell biology. 2015 Aug 3;210(3):435-50

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PMID: 26240184

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