Salvage NAD+ biosynthetic pathway enzymes moonlight as molecular chaperones to protect against proteotoxicity

Meredith Pinkerton, Andrea Ruetenik, Viktoriia Bazylianska, Eva Nyvltova, Antoni Barrientos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human neurodegenerative proteinopathies are disorders associated with abnormal protein depositions in brain neurons. They include polyglutamine (polyQ) conditions such as Huntington's disease (HD) and α-synucleinopathies such as Parkinson's disease (PD). Overexpression of NMNAT/Nma1, an enzyme in the NAD+ biosynthetic salvage pathway, acts as an efficient suppressor of proteotoxicities in yeast, fly and mouse models. Screens in yeast models of HD and PD allowed us to identify three additional enzymes of the same pathway that achieve similar protection against proteotoxic stress: Npt1, Pnc1 and Qns1. The mechanism by which these proteins maintain proteostasis has not been identified. Here, we report that their ability to maintain proteostasis in yeast models of HD and PD is independent of their catalytic activity and does not require cellular protein quality control systems such as the proteasome or autophagy. Furthermore, we show that, under proteotoxic stress, the four proteins are recruited as molecular chaperones with holdase and foldase activities. The NAD+ salvage proteins act by preventing misfolding and, together with the Hsp90 chaperone, promoting the refolding of extended polyQ domains and α-synuclein (α-Syn). Our results illustrate the existence of an evolutionarily conserved strategy of repurposing or moonlighting housekeeping enzymes under stress conditions to maintain proteostasis. We conclude that the entire salvage NAD+ biosynthetic pathway links NAD+ metabolism and proteostasis and emerges as a target for therapeutics to combat age-Associated neurodegenerative proteotoxicities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-686
Number of pages15
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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