by Farah H. Bardai, Dalila G. Ordonez, Rachel M. Bailey, Matthew Hamm, Jada Lewis, Mel B. Feany
Mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are the most common cause of familial Parkinson disease. Genetics and neuropathology link Parkinson disease with the microtubule-binding protein tau, but the mechanism of action of LRRK2 mutations and the molecular connection between tau and Parkinson disease are unclear. Here, we investigate the interaction of LRRK and tau in Drosophila and mouse models of tauopathy. We find that either increasing or decreasing the level of fly Lrrk enhances tau neurotoxicity, which is further exacerbated by expressing Lrrk with dominantly acting Parkinson disease—associated mutations. At the cellular level, altering Lrrk expression promotes tau neurotoxicity via excess stabilization of filamentous actin (F-actin) and subsequent mislocalization of the critical mitochondrial fission protein dynamin-1-like protein (Drp1). Biochemically, monomeric LRRK2 exhibits actin-severing activity, which is reduced as increasing concentrations of wild-type LRRK2, or expression of mutant forms of LRRK2 promote oligomerization of the protein. Overall, our findings provide a potential mechanistic basis for a dominant negative mechanism in LRRK2-mediated Parkinson disease, suggest a common molecular pathway with other familial forms of Parkinson disease linked to abnormalities of mitochondrial dynamics and quality control, and raise the possibility of new therapeutic approaches to Parkinson disease and related disorders.