The role of posttranslational modifications of α-synuclein and LRRK2 in Parkinson's disease: Potential contributions of environmental factors

Edward Pajarillo, Asha Rizor, Jayden Lee, Michael Aschner, Eunsook Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease (AD), and the most prevalent movement disorder. PD is characterized by dopaminergic neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra, but its etiology has yet to be established. Among several genetic variants contributing to PD pathogenesis, α-synuclein and leucine-rich repeat kinase (LRRK2) are widely associated with neuropathological phenotypes in familial and sporadic PD. α-Synuclein and LRRK2 found in Lewy bodies, a pathogenic hallmark of PD, are often posttranslationally modified. As posttranslational modifications (PTMs) are key processes in regulating the stability, localization, and function of proteins, PTMs have emerged as important modulators of α-synuclein and LRRK2 pathology. Aberrant PTMs altering phosphorylation, ubiquitination, nitration and truncation of these proteins promote PD pathogenesis, while other PTMs such as sumoylation may be protective. Although the causes of many aberrant PTMs are unknown, environmental risk factors may contribute to their aberrancy. Environmental toxicants such as rotenone and paraquat have been shown to interact with these proteins and promote their abnormal PTMs. Notably, manganese (Mn) exposure leads to a PD-like neurological disorder referred to as manganism—and induces pathogenic PTMs of α-synuclein and LRRK2. In this review, we highlight the role of PTMs of α-synuclein and LRRK2 in PD pathogenesis and discuss the impact of environmental risk factors on their aberrancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1992-2000
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019



  • LRRK2
  • Manganese
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Posttranslational modifications
  • α-Synuclein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology

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