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PARK7 gene

Parkinsonism associated deglycase

Normal Function

The PARK7 gene provides instructions for making the DJ-1 protein. This protein is found in many tissues and organs, including the brain. Studies indicate that the DJ-1 protein has several functions, although none are fully understood. One of the protein's functions may be to help protect cells, particularly brain cells, from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when unstable molecules called free radicals accumulate to levels that can damage or kill cells. Additionally, the DJ-1 protein may serve as a chaperone molecule that helps fold newly produced proteins into the proper 3-dimensional shape and helps refold damaged proteins. Like other chaperone molecules, the DJ-1 protein may assist in delivering selected proteins to proteasomes, which are structures within cells that break down unneeded molecules. Researchers suggest that the DJ-1 protein may also play a role in activities that produce and process RNA, a chemical cousin of DNA.

Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes

Parkinson's disease

Researchers have identified more than 25 PARK7 gene variants (also called mutations) that can cause Parkinson's disease, a condition characterized by progressive problems with movement and balance. These variants are associated with the early-onset form of the disorder, which begins before age 50. Some PARK7 gene variants lead to an abnormally small DJ-1 protein or change the building blocks (amino acids) used to make the protein. The altered protein is unstable and does not function properly, if at all. Other variants delete a large portion of the PARK7 gene, preventing the production of any functional DJ-1 protein.

It is unclear how loss of functional DJ-1 protein leads to Parkinson's disease. Some studies suggest that PARK7 gene variants disrupt the protein's chaperone function, which leads to a toxic buildup of misfolded or damaged proteins and eventually to cell death. Another possibility is that PARK7 gene variants impair the protein's ability to protect cells from destructive oxidative stress. Nerve cells that make the chemical messenger dopamine are particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. With diminished protection, free radicals may cause enough damage to kill these nerve cells. Progressive loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells is a characteristic feature of Parkinson's disease. The death of these cells weakens communication between the brain and muscles, and ultimately the brain becomes unable to control muscle movement.

More About This Health Condition

Other Names for This Gene

  • DJ-1
  • DJ1
  • Parkinson disease (autosomal recessive, early onset) 7
  • parkinson protein 7

Additional Information & Resources

Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry

Scientific Articles on PubMed

Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM

Gene and Variant Databases


  • Abou-Sleiman PM, Healy DG, Quinn N, Lees AJ, Wood NW. The role of pathogenic DJ-1 mutations in Parkinson's disease. Ann Neurol. 2003 Sep;54(3):283-6. doi: 10.1002/ana.10675. Citation on PubMed
  • Abou-Sleiman PM, Healy DG, Wood NW. Causes of Parkinson's disease: genetics of DJ-1. Cell Tissue Res. 2004 Oct;318(1):185-8. doi: 10.1007/s00441-004-0922-6. Epub 2004 Jun 26. Citation on PubMed
  • Bonifati V, Oostra BA, Heutink P. Linking DJ-1 to neurodegeneration offers novel insights for understanding the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. J Mol Med (Berl). 2004 Mar;82(3):163-74. doi: 10.1007/s00109-003-0512-1. Epub 2004 Jan 8. Citation on PubMed
  • Bonifati V, Rizzu P, van Baren MJ, Schaap O, Breedveld GJ, Krieger E, Dekker MC, Squitieri F, Ibanez P, Joosse M, van Dongen JW, Vanacore N, van Swieten JC, Brice A, Meco G, van Duijn CM, Oostra BA, Heutink P. Mutations in the DJ-1 gene associated with autosomal recessive early-onset parkinsonism. Science. 2003 Jan 10;299(5604):256-9. doi: 10.1126/science.1077209. Epub 2002 Nov 21. Citation on PubMed
  • da Costa CA. DJ-1: a newcomer in Parkinson's disease pathology. Curr Mol Med. 2007 Nov;7(7):650-7. doi: 10.2174/156652407782564426. Citation on PubMed
  • Kahle PJ, Waak J, Gasser T. DJ-1 and prevention of oxidative stress in Parkinson's disease and other age-related disorders. Free Radic Biol Med. 2009 Nov 15;47(10):1354-61. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2009.08.003. Epub 2009 Aug 14. Citation on PubMed
  • Miller DW, Ahmad R, Hague S, Baptista MJ, Canet-Aviles R, McLendon C, Carter DM, Zhu PP, Stadler J, Chandran J, Klinefelter GR, Blackstone C, Cookson MR. L166P mutant DJ-1, causative for recessive Parkinson's disease, is degraded through the ubiquitin-proteasome system. J Biol Chem. 2003 Sep 19;278(38):36588-95. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M304272200. Epub 2003 Jul 8. Citation on PubMed
  • Nuytemans K, Theuns J, Cruts M, Van Broeckhoven C. Genetic etiology of Parkinson disease associated with mutations in the SNCA, PARK2, PINK1, PARK7, and LRRK2 genes: a mutation update. Hum Mutat. 2010 Jul;31(7):763-80. doi: 10.1002/humu.21277. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Taira T, Saito Y, Niki T, Iguchi-Ariga SM, Takahashi K, Ariga H. DJ-1 has a role in antioxidative stress to prevent cell death. EMBO Rep. 2004 Feb;5(2):213-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400074. Epub 2004 Jan 23. Erratum In: EMBO Rep. 2004 Apr;5(4):430. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Zhou W, Zhu M, Wilson MA, Petsko GA, Fink AL. The oxidation state of DJ-1 regulates its chaperone activity toward alpha-synuclein. J Mol Biol. 2006 Mar 3;356(4):1036-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2005.12.030. Epub 2005 Dec 27. Citation on PubMed

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.