by Fumitaka Kawakami, Takatoshi Yabata, Etsuro Ohta, Tatsunori Maekawa, Naoki Shimada, Minori Suzuki, Hiroko Maruyama, Takafumi Ichikawa, Fumiya Obata
Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), a large protein kinase containing multi-functional domains, has been identified as the causal molecule for autosomal-dominant Parkinson's disease (PD). In the present study, we demonstrated for the first time that (i) LRRK2 interacts with tau in a tubulin-dependent manner; (ii) LRRK2 directly phosphorylates tubulin-associated tau, but not free tau; (iii) LRRK2 phosphorylates tau at Thr181 as one of the target sites; and (iv) The PD-associated LRRK2 mutations, G2019S and I2020T, elevated the degree of tau-phosphorylation. These results provide direct proof that tau is a physiological substrate for LRRK2. Furthermore, we revealed that LRRK2-mediated phosphorylation of tau reduces its tubulin-binding ability. Our results suggest that LRRK2 plays an important role as a physiological regulator for phosphorylation-mediated dissociation of tau from microtubules, which is an integral aspect of microtubule dynamics essential for neurite outgrowth and axonal transport.