LRRK2: an éminence grise of Wnt-mediated neurogenesis?

Berwick, Daniel C. and Harvey, Kirsten (2013). LRRK2: an éminence grise of Wnt-mediated neurogenesis? Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 7, article no. 82.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2013.00082

Abstract

The importance of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) to mature neurons is well-established, since mutations in PARK8, the gene encoding LRRK2, are the most common known cause of Parkinson's disease. Nonetheless, despite the LRRK2 knockout mouse having no overt neurodevelopmental defect, numerous lines of in vitro data point toward a central role for this protein in neurogenesis. Roles for LRRK2 have been described in many key processes, including neurite outgrowth and the regulation of microtubule dynamics. Moreover, LRRK2 has been implicated in cell cycle control, suggesting additional roles in neurogenesis that precede terminal differentiation. However, we contend that the suggested function of LRRK2 as a scaffolding protein at the heart of numerous Wnt signaling cascades provides the most tantalizing link to neurogenesis in the developing brain. Numerous lines of evidence show a critical requirement for multiple Wnt pathways in the development of certain brain regions, not least the dopaminergic neurons of the ventral mid-brain. In conclusion, these observations indicate a function of LRRK2 as a subtle yet critical mediator of the action of Wnt ligands on developing neurons. We suggest that LRRK2 loss- or gain-of-function are likely modifiers of developmental phenotypes seen in animal models of Wnt signaling deregulation, a hypothesis that can be tested by cross-breeding relevant genetically modified experimental strains.

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