The Parkinson disease-associated protein kinase LRRK2 exhibits MAPKKK activity and phosphorylates MKK3/6 and MKK4/7, in vitro

J Neurochem. 2009 May;109(4):959-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06024.x. Epub 2009 Mar 3.


Autosomal dominant mutations in the human Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene represent the most common monogenetic cause of Parkinson disease (PD) and increased kinase activity observed in pathogenic mutants of LRRK2 is most likely causative for PD-associated neurotoxicity. The sequence of the LRRK2 kinase domain shows similarity to MAP kinase kinase kinases. Furthermore, LRRK2 shares highest sequence homology with mixed linage kinases which act upstream of canonical MAPKK and are involved in cellular stress responses. Therefore, we addressed the question if LRRK2 exhibits MAPKKK activity by systematically testing MAPKKs as candidate substrates, in vitro. We demonstrate that LRRK2 variants phosphorylate mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases (MAPKK), including MKK3 -4, -6 and -7. MKKs act upstream of the MAPK p38 and JNK mediating oxidative cell stress, neurotoxicity and apoptosis. The disease-associated LRRK2 G2019S and I2020T mutations show an increased phosphotransferase activity towards MKKs correlating with the activity shown for its autophosphorylation. Our findings present evidence of a new class of molecular targets for mutant LRRK2 that link to neurotoxicity, cellular stress, cytoskeletal dynamics and vesicular transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Parkinson Disease / enzymology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • LRRK2 protein, human
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases