An increase in LRRK2 suppresses autophagy and enhances Dectin-1–induced immunity in a mouse model of colitis

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Translational Medicine  06 Jun 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 444, eaan8162
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan8162

Lrrking in the shadows of colitis

In new work, Takagawa et al. show that dendritic cells (DCs) from Crohn’s disease (CD) patients and lymphoblastoid cells from control patients bearing a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the LRRK2/MUC19 gene region exhibited increased LRRK2 mRNA and protein expression. Lrrk2 transgenic mice overexpressing LRRK2 compared to littermate control mice showed more severe colitis induced by the chemical DSS and increased Dectin-1–induced proinflammatory cytokine secretion driven by LRRK2 activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway. Membrane-associated LRRK2 inactivated Beclin-1 and consequently inhibited autophagy. Finally, the authors demonstrate that LRRK2 inhibitors decreased Dectin-1–induced TNF-α production by DCs and ameliorated DSS-induced colitis in both control and Lrrk2 transgenic mice, suggesting that LRRK2 inhibitors should be investigated further as a potential treatment for CD.


The LRRK2/MUC19 gene region constitutes a high-risk genetic locus for the occurrence of both inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) and Parkinson’s disease. We show that dendritic cells (DCs) from patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) and lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from patients without CD but bearing a high-risk allele (rs11564258) at this locus as heterozygotes exhibited increased LRRK2 expression in vitro. To investigate the immunological consequences of this increased LRRK2 expression, we conducted studies in transgenic mice overexpressing Lrrk2 and showed that these mice exhibited more severe colitis induced by dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) than did littermate control animals. This increase in colitis severity was associated with lamina propria DCs that showed increased Dectin-1–induced NF-κB activation and proinflammatory cytokine secretion. Colitis severity was driven by LRRK2 activation of NF-κB pathway components including the TAK1 complex and TRAF6. Next, we found that membrane-associated LRRK2 (in association with TAB2) caused inactivation of Beclin-1 and inhibition of autophagy. HCT116 colon epithelial cells lacking Beclin-1 exhibited increased LRRK2 expression compared to wild-type cells, suggesting that inhibition of autophagy potentially could augment LRRK2 proinflammatory signaling. We then showed that LRRK2 inhibitors decreased Dectin-1–induced TNF-α production by mouse DCs and ameliorated DSS-induced colitis, both in control and Lrrk2 transgenic animals. Finally, we demonstrated that LRRK2 inhibitors blocked TNF-α production by cultured DCs from patients with CD. Our findings suggest that normalization of LRRK2 activation could be a therapeutic approach for treating IBD, regardless of whether a LRRK2 risk allele is involved.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Translational Medicine