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Study uncovers role of Parkinson’s-related gene

Original article: Phosphoproteomics reveals that Parkinson’s disease kinase LRRK2 regulates a subset of Rab GTPases, eLife: January 28, 2016

The takeaway

Scientists have uncovered how a gene associated with Parkinson’s, LRRK2, regulates cellular transport. Mutations in LRRK2 are the primary cause for inherited cases of Parkinson’s, which comprise 5 to 10 percent of all cases.

Why is it important?

Better understanding LRRK2’s role and how it interacts with other important molecules may aid in the development of new therapies that slow or stop disease progression.


“LRRK2 is the most common, single genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease. While we have known about this enzyme’s role for more than a decade, it is still not clear how it triggers PD. This paper identifies other proteins that appear to partner with LRRK2 in the disease process.” Dr. Patrik Brundin



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The details

Recent evidence suggests that Parkinson’s may result in part from problems with cellular energy, which interferes with cells’ ability to get rid of abnormal proteins and other harmful debris. This study shows that LRRK2 inactivates proteins that help transport molecules around the cell, which leads to cell damage.

Related work

The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) is funding a large LRRK2 Consortium to test critical hypotheses about both normal and pathological LRRK2. This collaborative network of more than 30 investigator teams will help researchers understand LRRK2’s structure and function in order to identify drug candidates that can modify its activity in the body and the brain. This initiative is bringing research groups together early on to share resources, troubleshoot common problems and identify best resources, to speed collective efforts to move LRRK2 toward practical therapeutic relevance for people with Parkinson’s.
Original article: Steger M, Tonelli F, Ito G, Davies P, Trost M, Vetter M, Wachter S, Lorentzen E, Duddy G, Wilson S, Baptista MAS, Fiske BK, Fell MJ, Morrow JA, Reith AD, Alessi DR, Mann M. January 28, 2016. Phosphoproteomics reveals that Parkinson’s disease kinase LRRK2 regulates a subset of Rab GTPases. eLife 5:e12813.

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