Bae EJ, Kim DK, Kim C, Mante M, Adame A, Rockenstein E, Ulusoy A, Klinkenberg M, Jeong GR, Bae JR, Lee C, Lee HJ, Lee BD, Di Monte DA, Masliah E, Lee SJ.
Propagation of α-synuclein aggregates has been suggested as a contributing factor in Parkinson's disease (PD) progression. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying α-synuclein aggregation are not fully understood. Here, we demonstrate in cell culture, nematode, and rodent models of PD that leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), a PD-linked kinase, modulates α-synuclein propagation in a kinase activity-dependent manner. The PD-linked G2019S mutation in LRRK2, which increases kinase activity, enhances propagation efficiency. Furthermore, we show that the role of LRRK2 in α-synuclein propagation is mediated by RAB35 phosphorylation. Constitutive activation of RAB35 overrides the reduced α-synuclein propagation phenotype in lrk-1 mutant C. elegans. Finally, in a mouse model of synucleinopathy, administration of an LRRK2 kinase inhibitor reduced α-synuclein aggregation via enhanced interaction of α-synuclein with the lysosomal degradation pathway. These results suggest that LRRK2-mediated RAB35 phosphorylation is a potential therapeutic target for modifying disease progression.