LRRK2 dephosphorylation increases its ubiquitination

Biochem J. 2015 Jul 1;469(1):107-20. doi: 10.1042/BJ20141305. Epub 2015 May 5.


Activating mutations in the leucine rich repeat protein kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene are the most common cause of inherited Parkinson's disease (PD). LRRK2 is phosphorylated on a cluster of phosphosites including Ser(910), Ser(935), Ser(955) and Ser(973), which are dephosphorylated in several PD-related LRRK2 mutants (N1437H, R1441C/G, Y1699C and I2020T) linking the regulation of these sites to PD. These serine residues are also dephosphorylated after kinase inhibition and lose 14-3-3 binding, which serves as a pharmacodynamic marker for inhibited LRRK2. Loss of 14-3-3 binding is well established, but the consequences of dephosphorylation are only now being uncovered. In the present study, we found that potent and selective inhibition of LRRK2 kinase activity leads to dephosphorylation of Ser(935) then ubiquitination and degradation of a significant fraction of LRRK2. GNE1023 treatment decreased the phosphorylation and stability of LRRK2 in expression systems and endogenous LRRK2 in A549 cells and in mouse dosing studies. We next established that LRRK2 is ubiquitinated through at least Lys(48) and Lys(63) ubiquitin linkages in response to inhibition. To investigate the link between dephosphorylation induced by inhibitor treatment and LRRK2 ubiquitination, we studied LRRK2 in conditions where it is dephosphorylated such as expression of PD mutants [R1441G, Y1699C and I2020T] or by blocking 14-3-3 binding to LRRK2 via difopein expression, and found LRRK2 is hyper-ubiquitinated. Calyculin A treatment prevents inhibitor and PD mutant induced dephosphorylation and reverts LRRK2 to a lesser ubiquitinated species, thus directly implicating phosphatase activity in LRRK2 ubiquitination. This dynamic dephosphorylation-ubiquitination cycle could explain detrimental loss-of-function phenotypes found in peripheral tissues of LRRK2 kinase inactive mutants, LRRK2 KO (knockout) animals and following LRRK2 inhibitor administration.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease; kinase; kinase inhibitor; phosphatase; ubiquitin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 14-3-3 Proteins / genetics
  • 14-3-3 Proteins / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2
  • Marine Toxins
  • Mice
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Oxazoles / pharmacology
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Phosphorylation / physiology
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitination / physiology*


  • 14-3-3 Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Marine Toxins
  • Oxazoles
  • calyculin A
  • LRRK2 protein, human
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2
  • Lrrk2 protein, mouse
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases