Mutations in the gene encoding leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are the most common cause of heritable forms of Parkinson's disease (PD), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder for which there is no cure. Though little is known about the normal function of LRRK2, inherited PD progresses identically to idiopathic cases, suggesting the existence of common disease mechanisms and highlighting the need to understand pathogenic mechanisms and circuits through which mutant LRRK2 acts. LRRK2 is enriched in dorsal striatum, the principal target of dopaminergic neurons that degenerate in PD, but paradoxically, its expression peaks developmentally during synaptogenesis. This has presented a conundrum in a field customarily focused on late-stage motor symptoms and underscores the importance of understanding whether PD-related mutations in LRRK2 alter striatal network structure and function early on. Accordingly, my objective is to determine how normal LRRK2 and a PD-related mutant form of LRRK2 control development of excitatory striatal synaptic networks. I will accomplish this using a mouse Lrrk2 knock-in model and with an integrated set of electrophysiological, imaging, anatomical, and pharmacogenetic assays to characterize alterations in neural circuits during development. I hypothesize that a PD-related mutant form of LRRK2 results in abnormal corticostriatal neural network development. My preliminary data strongly support this idea, as mice expressing the most common LRRK2 mutation seen in PD patients exhibit significantly altered striatal synaptic network properties and spine morphology early in life. Furthermore, I hope to identify both the source of this aberrant activity, as I have preliminary data that suggest aberrant striatal inputs arise from cortical sources, as well as how the effects of aberrant striatal inputs may effect downstream basal ganglia circuitry. This project will shed light on early circuit abnormalities that may underlie neurodegeneration in PD later in life.

Public Health Relevance

Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative movement disorder, affecting 16-19 individuals out of every 100,000 per year. Though most PD is idiopathic, it is estimated that around 13% of cases are inherited. Mutations in the protein leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are the most common cause of inherited PD, yet little is known about the normal function of LRRK2 or the impact of LRRK2 mutations. This proposal aims to understand how mutated LRRK2 may alter neuronal connections in brain regions affected by PD, and to understand how LRRK2 mutation contributes to the onset of the disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F03A-N (20)L)
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Sieber, Beth-Anne
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Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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Matikainen-Ankney, Bridget A; Kezunovic, Nebojsa; Menard, Caroline et al. (2018) Parkinson's Disease-Linked LRRK2-G2019S Mutation Alters Synaptic Plasticity and Promotes Resilience to Chronic Social Stress in Young Adulthood. J Neurosci 38:9700-9711
Benson, Deanna L; Matikainen-Ankney, Bridget A; Hussein, Ayan et al. (2018) Functional and behavioral consequences of Parkinson's disease-associated LRRK2-G2019S mutation. Biochem Soc Trans 46:1697-1705
Matikainen-Ankney, Bridget A; Kezunovic, Nebojsa; Mesias, Roxana E et al. (2016) Altered Development of Synapse Structure and Function in Striatum Caused by Parkinson's Disease-Linked LRRK2-G2019S Mutation. J Neurosci 36:7128-41