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Kinase inhibition of G2019S-LRRK2 restores autolysosome formation and function to reduce endogenous alpha-synuclein intracellular inclusions

By Julia Obergasteiger, Giulia Frapporti, Giulia Lamonaca, Sara Pizzi, Anne Picard, Francesca Pischedda, Giovanni Piccoli, Evy Lobbestael, Veerle Baekelandt, Andrew A. Hicks, Corrado Corti, Peter P. Pramstaller, Mattia Volta

Posted 18 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/707273

The Parkinson’s disease (PD)-associated kinase Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) is a potent modulator of autophagy and impacts on lysosome biology and function, but unclarity exists on the precise mechanics of its role and the direction of this modulation. LRRK2 is also involved in the degradation of pathological alpha-synuclein, with pathogenic mutations precipitating neuropathology in cellular and animal models of PD, and most LRRK2 familial cases manifesting with Lewy neuropathology. Defects in autophagic processing and lysosomal degradation of alpha-synuclein have been postulated to underlie its accumulation and onset of neuropathology. Thus, it is critical to reconcile these independent pieces of information to obtain a comprehensive knowledge on LRRK2-associated pathology that could also be generalized to the idiopathic disease. Here, we report a focused investigation on the role of PD-causing G2019S-LRRK2 in the autophagy-lysosome pathway in a recombinant cell line model. Initially, we evaluated the effect of LRRK2 expression on autophagy-related transcriptome. Then, we found that G2019S-LRRK2 leads to accumulation of autophagosomes with no net effect on autophagy induction. This is linked to abnormalities in lysosome morphology and proteolytic activity that are associated with a decrease in the successful formation of autolysosomes. Despite some of these features being shared by WT-LRRK2, alpha-synuclein intracellular inclusions are specifically found in G2019S-LRRK2 cells. Pharmacological kinase inhibition is capable of rescuing defects in the autophagy-lysosome pathway and reducing the number of inclusions. Notably, this effect is prevented by upstream blockade of autophagosome-lysosome fusion events, highlighting this step of the process as critical for alpha-synuclein clearance.

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