LRRK2-mediated neurodegeneration and dysfunction of dopaminergic neurons in a Caenorhabditis elegans model of Parkinson's disease

Academic Article


  • Mutations in LRRK2 are thus far the most frequent known cause of autosomal dominant and idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) with prevalent mutations being found within the GTPase (R1441C/G) and kinase (G2019S) domains. Previous in vitro studies have revealed that R1441C and G2019S mutations are associated with increased kinase activity. To better understand LRRK2-linked PD pathogenesis in vivo, we have generated transgenic C. elegans overexpressing human LRRK2 wild type, R1441C and G2019S in dopaminergic (DA) neurons. Overexpression of these LRRK2 proteins causes age-dependent DA neurodegeneration, behavioral deficits, and locomotor dysfunction that are accompanied by a reduction of dopamine levels in vivo. In comparison, R1441C and G2019S mutants cause more severe phenotypes than the wild type protein. Interestingly, treatment with exogenous dopamine rescues the LRRK2-induced behavioral and locomotor phenotypes. In contrast, expression of the GTP binding defective mutant, K1347A, or knockout of the C. elegans LRRK2 homolog, LRK-1, prevents the LRRK2-induced neurodegeneration and behavioral abnormalities. Hence, our transgenic LRRK2 C. elegans models recapitulate key features of PD including progressive neurodegeneration, impairment of dopamine-dependent behavior and locomotor function, and reduction in dopamine levels. Furthermore, our findings provide strong support for the critical role of GTPase/kinase activity in LRRK2-linked pathologies. These invertebrate models will be useful for studying pathogenesis of PD and for development of potential therapeutics for the disease. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
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    Author List

  • Yao C; El Khoury R; Wang W; Byrd TA; Pehek EA; Thacker C; Zhu X; Smith MA; Wilson-Delfosse AL; Chen SG
  • Start Page

  • 73
  • End Page

  • 81
  • Volume

  • 40
  • Issue

  • 1