Autosomal dominant mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are associated with Parkinson's disease (PD). Most pathogenic LRRK2 mutations result in amino acid substitutions in the central ROC (Ras of complex proteins)–C-terminus of ROC–kinase triple domain and affect enzymatic functions of the protein. However, there are several variants in LRRK2, including the risk factor G2385R, that affect PD pathogenesis by unknown mechanisms. Previously, we have shown that G2385R LRRK2 has decreased kinase activity in vitro and altered affinity to LRRK2 interactors. Specifically, we found an increased binding to the chaperone Hsp90 (heat shock protein 90 kDa) that is known to stabilize LRRK2, suggesting that G2385R may have structural effects on LRRK2. In the present study, we further explored the effects of G2385R on LRRK2 in cells. We found that G2385R LRRK2 has lower steady-state intracellular protein levels compared with wild-type LRRK2 due to increased protein turnover of the mutant protein. Mechanistically, this is a consequence of a higher affinity of G2385R compared with the wild-type protein for two proteins involved in proteasomal degradation, Hsc70 and carboxyl-terminus of Hsc70-interacting protein (CHIP). Overexpression of CHIP decreased intracellular protein levels of both G2385R mutant and wild-type LRRK2, while short interfering RNA CHIP knockdown had the opposite effect. We suggest that the G2385R substitution tilts the equilibrium between refolding and proteasomal degradation toward intracellular degradation. The observation of lower steady-state protein levels may explain why G2385R is a risk factor rather than a penetrant variant for inherited PD.

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