Dopamine neuron-specific LRRK2 G2019S effects on gene expression revealed by translatome profiling

Neurobiol Dis. 2021 Jul;155:105390. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2021.105390. Epub 2021 May 11.


Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) mutations are the most common genetic cause of late-onset Parkinson's disease. The pathogenic G2019S mutation enhances LRRK2 kinase activity and induces neurodegeneration in C. elegans, Drosophila and rodent models through unclear mechanisms. Gene expression profiling has the potential to provide detailed insight into the biological pathways modulated by LRRK2 kinase activity. Prior in vivo studies have surveyed the effects of LRRK2 G2019S on genome-wide mRNA expression in complex brain tissues with high cellular heterogeneity, limiting their power to detect more restricted gene expression changes occurring in a cell type-specific manner. Here, we used translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) coupled to RNA-seq to profile dopamine neuron-specific gene expression changes caused by LRRK2 G2019S in the Drosophila CNS. A number of genes were differentially expressed in the presence of mutant LRRK2 that represent a broad range of molecular functions including DNA repair (RfC3), mRNA metabolism and translation (Ddx1 and lin-28), calcium homeostasis (MCU), and other categories (Ugt37c1, disp, l(1)G0196, CG6602, CG1126 and CG11068). Further analysis on a subset of these genes revealed that LRRK2 G2019S did not alter their expression across the whole brain, consistent with dopamine neuron-specific effects uncovered by the TRAP approach that may yield insight into the neurodegenerative process. To our knowledge, this is the first study to profile the effects of LRRK2 G2019S specifically on DA neuron gene expression in vivo. Beyond providing a set of differentially expressed gene candidates relevant to LRRK2, we demonstrate the effective use of TRAP to perform high-resolution assessment of dopamine neuron gene expression for the study of PD.

Keywords: Dopamine neurons; Drosophila melanogaster; LRRK2; Parkinson's disease.