DJ-1 is a multifunctional protein affecting different biological and cellular processes. In addition, DJ-1 has roles in regulating mitochondrial function. Loss-of-function mutations in DJ-1 were found to cause an autosomal recessive form of Parkinson’s disease. One of the main pathological features of PD is loss of dopamine neurons in the nigrostriatal pathway. DJ-1 knockout (KO) rats exhibit progressive nigral neurodegeneration with about 50% dopaminergic cell loss at 8 months of age. In order to assess the effects of DJ-1 deficiency on neuronal mitochondria prior to neuron loss, we performed proteomic analysis of synaptic mitochondria isolated from the striatum, the location of nigrostriatal pathway nerve terminals, of 3-month-old DJ-1 KO rats. In total, 371 mitochondrial proteins were quantified, and of these 76 were differentially expressed in DJ-1 KO rats. Proteins perturbed by the loss of DJ-1 were involved in several mitochondrial functional pathways, including the tricarboxylic acid cycle and electron transport chain. Thus, synaptic mitochondrial respiration was measured and showed a significant change due to DJ-1 deficiency. The dataset generated here highlights the role of synaptic mitochondria in PD associated with DJ-1. This study improves our understanding of DJ-1 effects in a complex tissue environment and the synaptic mitochondrial changes that accompany its loss.
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