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Keywords:

  • animal models;
  • BAC transgenics;
  • dopamine;
  • GTPase;
  • kinase;
  • leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2);
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • pathogenesis;
  • ROCO

The recent discovery of the genetic causes for Parkinson’s disease (PD) is fruitful; however, the continuing revelation of PD-related genes is rapidly outpacing the functional characterization of the gene products. Although the discovery of multiple PD-related genes places PD as one of the most complex multigenetic diseases of the brain, it will undoubtedly facilitate the unfolding of a central pathogenic pathway and an understanding of the etiology of PD. Recent findings of pathogenic mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) (PARK8) that are linked to the most common familial forms and some sporadic forms of PD provide a unique opportunity to gain insight into the pathogenesis of PD. Despite rapid growth in biochemical, structural and in vitro cell culture studies of LRRK2, the in vivo characterizations of LRRK2 function generally fall short and are largely limited to invertebrates. The investigation of LRRK2 or homologs of LRRK2 in nonmammalian models provides important clues with respect to the cellular functions of LRRK2, but an elucidation of the physiology and pathophysiology of LRRK2 relevant to PD would still depend on mammalian models established by multiple genetic approaches, followed by rigorous examination of the models for pathological process. This minireview summarizes previous studies of genes for ROCO and LRRK2 homologs in slime mold, nematode worms and fruit flies. It also discusses the results obtained from available mouse models of LRRK2 that begin to provide information for understanding LRRK2-mediated pathogenesis in PD.