Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) regulates α-synuclein clearance in microglia

Tatsunori Maekawa, Toshikuni Sasaoka, Sadahiro Azuma, Takafumi Ichikawa, Heather L. Melrose, Matthew J. Farrer, Fumiya Obata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: α-Synuclein (αSYN) has been genetically implicated in familial and sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD), and is associated with disease susceptibility, progression and pathology. Excess amounts of αSYN are toxic to neurons. In the brain, microglial αSYN clearance is closely related to neuronal survival. Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is the one of the other genes implicated in familial and sporadic PD. While LRRK2 is known to be expressed in microglia, its true function remains to be elucidated. In this study, we investigated αSYN clearance by microglia isolated from LRRK2-knockout (KO) mice. Results: In LRRK2-KO microglia, αSYN was taken up in larger amounts and cleared from the supernatant more effectively than for microglia isolated from wild-type (WT) mice. This higher clearance ability of LRRK2-KO microglia was thought to be due to an increase of Rab5-positive endosomes, but not Rab7- or Rab11-positive endosomes. Increased engagement between Rab5 and dynamin 1 was also observed in LRRK2-KO microglia. Conclusion: LRRK2 negatively regulates the clearance of αSYN accompanied by down-regulation of the endocytosis pathway. Our findings reveal a new functional role of LRRK2 in microglia and offer a new insight into the mechanism of PD pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number77
JournalBMC neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 30 2016


  • LRRK2
  • Microglia
  • α-Synuclein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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