Background: Mutations within the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene are a common cause of familial and sporadic Parkinson's disease. The multidomain protein LRRK2 exhibits overall low GTPase and kinase activity in vitro.
Methodology/principal findings: Here, we show that the rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor ARHGEF7 and the small GTPase CDC42 are interacting with LRRK2 in vitro and in vivo. GTPase activity of full-length LRRK2 increases in the presence of recombinant ARHGEF7. Interestingly, LRRK2 phosphorylates ARHGEF7 in vitro at previously unknown phosphorylation sites. We provide evidence that ARHGEF7 might act as a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for LRRK2 and that R1441C mutant LRRK2 with reduced GTP hydrolysis activity also shows reduced binding to ARHGEF7.
Conclusions/significance: Downstream effects of phosphorylation of ARHGEF7 through LRRK2 could be (i) a feedback control mechanism for LRRK2 activity as well as (ii) an impact of LRRK2 on actin cytoskeleton regulation. A newly identified familial mutation N1437S, localized within the GTPase domain of LRRK2, further underlines the importance of the GTPase domain of LRRK2 in Parkinson's disease pathogenesis.