Activation of FADD-Dependent Neuronal Death Pathways as a Predictor of Pathogenicity for LRRK2 Mutations

PLoS One. 2016 Nov 10;11(11):e0166053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166053. eCollection 2016.


Background: Despite the plethora of sequence variants in LRRK2, only a few clearly segregate with PD. Even within this group of pathogenic mutations, the phenotypic profile can differ widely.

Objective: We examined multiple properties of LRRK2 behavior in cellular models over-expressing three sequence variants described in Greek PD patients in comparison to several known pathogenic and non-pathogenic LRRK2 mutations, to determine if specific phenotypes associated with pathogenic LRRK2 can be observed in other less-common sequence variants for which pathogenicity is unclear based on clinical and/or genetic data alone.

Methods: The oligomerization, activity, phosphorylation, and interaction with FADD was assessed in HEK293T cells over-expressing LRRK2; while the induction of neuronal death was determined by quantifying apoptotic nuclei in primary neurons transiently expressing LRRK2.

Results: One LRRK2 variant, A211V, exhibited a modest increase in kinase activity, whereas only the pathogenic mutants G2019S and I2020T displayed significantly altered auto-phosphorylation. We observed an induction of detergent-insoluble high molecular weight structures upon expression of pathogenic LRRK2 mutants, but not the other LRRK2 variants. In contrast, each of the variants tested induced apoptotic death of cultured neurons similar to pathogenic LRRK2 in a FADD-dependent manner.

Conclusions: Overall, despite differences in some properties of LRRK2 function such as kinase activity and its oligomerization, each of the LRRK2 variants examined induced neuronal death to a similar extent. Furthermore, our findings further strengthen the notion of a convergence on the extrinsic cell death pathway common to mutations in LRRK2 that are capable of inducing neuronal death.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Death
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fas-Associated Death Domain Protein / metabolism*
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2 / genetics*
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2 / metabolism
  • Mutation*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics*
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Interaction Maps
  • Signal Transduction*


  • FADD protein, human
  • Fas-Associated Death Domain Protein
  • Guanosine Triphosphate
  • LRRK2 protein, human
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2