The Parkinson's disease (PD) protein leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) exists as a mixture of monomeric and dimeric species, with its kinase activity highly concentrated in the dimeric conformation of the enzyme. We have adapted the proximity biotinylation approach to study the formation and activity of LRRK2 dimers isolated from cultured cells. We find that the R1441C and I2020T mutations both enhance the rate of dimer formation, whereas, the G2019S kinase domain mutant is similar to WT, and the G2385R risk factor variant de-stabilizes dimers. Interestingly, we find a marked departure in the kinase activity between G2019S–LRRK2 homo-dimers and wild-type-G2019S hetero-dimers. While the homo-dimeric G2019S–LRRK2 exhibits the typical robust enhancement of kinase activity, hetero-dimers comprised of wild-type (WT) and G2019S–LRRK2 exhibit kinase activity similar to WT. Dimeric complexes of specific mutant forms of LRRK2 show reduced stability following an in vitro kinase reaction, in LRRK2 mutants for which the kinase activity is similar to WT. Phosphorylation of the small GTPase Rab10 follows a similar pattern in which hetero-dimers of WT and mutant LRRK2 show similar levels of phosphorylation of Rab10 to WT homo-dimers; while the levels of pRab10 are significantly increased in cells expressing mutant homo-dimers. Interestingly, while the risk variant G2385R leads to a de-stabilization of LRRK2 dimers, those dimers possess significantly elevated kinase activity. The vast majority of familial LRRK2-dependent PD cases are heterozygous; thus, these findings raise the possibility that a crucial factor in disease pathogenesis may be the accumulation of homo-dimeric mutant LRRK2.

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