Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a severe genetic neurodegenerative disease caused by reduced expression of the mitochondrial protein frataxin. To date, there is no therapy to treat this condition. The amount of residual frataxin critically affects the severity of the disease; thus, attempts to restore physiological frataxin levels are considered therapeutically relevant. Frataxin levels are controlled by the ubiquitin-proteasome system; therefore, inhibition of the frataxin E3 ligase may represent a strategy to achieve an increase in frataxin levels. Here, we report the identification of the RING E3 ligase RNF126 as the enzyme that specifically mediates frataxin ubiquitination and targets it for degradation. RNF126 interacts with frataxin and promotes its ubiquitination in a catalytic activity-dependent manner, both in vivo and in vitro. Most importantly, RNF126 depletion results in frataxin accumulation in cells derived from FRDA patients, highlighting the relevance of RNF126 as a new therapeutic target for Friedreich ataxia.
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