The Parkinson's disease VPS35[D620N] mutation enhances LRRK2-mediated Rab protein phosphorylation in mouse and human

Biochem J. 2018 Jun 6;475(11):1861-1883. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20180248.


Missense mutations in the LRRK2 (Leucine-rich repeat protein kinase-2) and VPS35 genes result in autosomal dominant Parkinson's disease. The VPS35 gene encodes for the cargo-binding component of the retromer complex, while LRRK2 modulates vesicular trafficking by phosphorylating a subgroup of Rab proteins. Pathogenic mutations in LRRK2 increase its kinase activity. It is not known how the only thus far described pathogenic VPS35 mutation, [p.D620N] exerts its effects. We reveal that the VPS35[D620N] knock-in mutation strikingly elevates LRRK2-mediated phosphorylation of Rab8A, Rab10, and Rab12 in mouse embryonic fibroblasts. The VPS35[D620N] mutation also increases Rab10 phosphorylation in mouse tissues (the lung, kidney, spleen, and brain). Furthermore, LRRK2-mediated Rab10 phosphorylation is increased in neutrophils as well as monocytes isolated from three Parkinson's patients with a heterozygous VPS35[D620N] mutation compared with healthy donors and idiopathic Parkinson's patients. LRRK2-mediated Rab10 phosphorylation is significantly suppressed by knock-out or knock-down of VPS35 in wild-type, LRRK2[R1441C], or VPS35[D620N] cells. Finally, VPS35[D620N] mutation promotes Rab10 phosphorylation more potently than LRRK2 pathogenic mutations. Available data suggest that Parkinson's patients with VPS35[D620N] develop the disease at a younger age than those with LRRK2 mutations. Our observations indicate that VPS35 controls LRRK2 activity and that the VPS35[D620N] mutation results in a gain of function, potentially causing PD through hyperactivation of the LRRK2 kinase. Our findings suggest that it may be possible to elaborate compounds that target the retromer complex to suppress LRRK2 activity. Moreover, patients with VPS35[D620N] associated Parkinson's might benefit from LRRK2 inhibitor treatment that have entered clinical trials in humans.

Keywords: Leucine-rich repeat kinase; Parkinson's disease signalling; Rab proteins; VPS35; kinase; phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Humans
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2 / genetics
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • VPS35 protein, human
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • Vps35 protein, mouse
  • LRRK2 protein, human
  • Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2
  • Lrrk2 protein, mouse
  • Rab10 protein, mouse
  • Rab12 protein, human
  • RAB8A protein, human
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins