Mutations in the Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene, first described in 2004 have now emerged as the most important genetic finding in both autosomal dominant and sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD). While a formidable research effort has ensued since the initial gene discovery, little is known of either the normal or the pathological role of LRRK2. We have created lines of mice that express human wild-type (hWT) or G2019S Lrrk2 via bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenesis. In vivo analysis of the dopaminergic system revealed abnormal dopamine neurotransmission in both hWT and G2019S transgenic mice evidenced by a decrease in extra-cellular dopamine levels, which was detected without pharmacological manipulation. Immunopathological analysis revealed changes in localization and increased phosphorylation of microtubule binding protein tau in G2019S mice. Quantitative biochemical analysis confirmed the presence of differential phospho-tau species in G2019S mice but surprisingly, upon dephosphorylation the tau isoform banding pattern in G2019S mice remained altered. This suggests that other post-translational modifications of tau occur in G2019S mice. We hypothesize that Lrrk2 may impact on tau processing which subsequently leads to increased phosphorylation. Our models will be useful for further understanding of the mechanistic actions of LRRK2 and future therapeutic screening.
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