Parkinson disease (PD) is a relatively common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. About 5%–10% of PD cases are inherited. Mutations in the Parkin gene, which encodes a protein that can function as an E3 ubiquitin ligase, are a common cause of familial PD. Such mutations act in a loss-of-function manner and impair the ability of the encoded protein to mediate substrate ubiquitination, although the subsequent molecular pathway that precipitates neuronal degeneration is poorly defined. In this issue of the JCI, Kim and colleagues describe painstaking evidence using a number of dissecting approaches in intact animals and cultured cells to functionally link Parkin and the class B scavenger receptor CD36, suggesting a novel and complex connection between PD and fatty acid metabolism.
Nada A. Abumrad, Darren J. Moore