PLoS ONE (2019-01-01)

LRRK2 kinase plays a critical role in manganese-induced inflammation and apoptosis in microglia.

  • Judong Kim,
  • Edward Pajarillo,
  • Asha Rizor,
  • Deok-Soo Son,
  • Jayden Lee,
  • Michael Aschner,
  • Eunsook Lee

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 1
p. e0210248


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Long-term exposure to elevated levels of manganese (Mn) causes manganism, a neurodegenerative disorder with Parkinson's disease (PD)-like symptoms. Increasing evidence suggests that leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), which is highly expressed in microglia and macrophages, contributes to the inflammation and neurotoxicity seen in autosomal dominant and sporadic PD. As gene-environment interactions have emerged as important modulators of PD-associated toxicity, LRRK2 may also mediate Mn-induced inflammation and pathogenesis. In this study, we investigated the role of LRRK2 in Mn-induced toxicity using human microglial cells (HMC3), LRRK2-wild-type (WT) and LRRK2-knockout (KO) RAW264.7 macrophage cells. Results showed that Mn activated LRRK2 kinase by phosphorylation of its serine residue at the 1292 position (S1292) as a marker of its kinase activity in macrophage and microglia, while inhibition with GSK2578215A (GSK) and MLi-2 abolished Mn-induced LRRK2 activation. LRRK2 deletion and its pharmacological inhibition attenuated Mn-induced apoptosis in macrophages and microglia, along with concomitant decreases in the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2-associated X (Bax) protein. LRRK2 deletion also attenuated Mn-induced production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α. Mn-induced phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38 and ERK signaling proteins was significantly attenuated in LRRK2 KO cells and GSK-treated cells. Moreover, inhibition of MAPK p38 and ERK as well as LRRK2 attenuated Mn-induced oxidative stress and cytotoxicity. These findings suggest that LRRK2 kinase activity plays a critical role in Mn-induced toxicity via downstream activation of MAPK signaling in macrophage and microglia. Collectively, these results suggest that LRRK2 could be a potential molecular target for developing therapeutics to treat Mn-related neurodegenerative disorders.