Welcome to the Wikiversity learning project about neurodegenerative disease. Initially, the emphasis of this project is on recent biomedical research into the fundamental causes of neurodegenerative disease.
Mutations in the human LRRK2 gene can cause Parkinson disease. It has been suggested that the LRRK2 protein (a protein kinase) can activate a programmed cell death signaling pathway in neurons (see The Parkinson Disease Protein LRRK2 Transduces Death Signals Via FADD and Caspase-8 in a Cellular Model of Neurodegeneration).
The fly Drosophila has been used to study the functional roles of proteins that have been associated with neurodegeneration in Parkinson disease (see The Dopaminergic System in the Aging Brain of Drosophila). Recently (published December 15, 2010), evidence has been described for a role of LRRK2 in the regulation of synapse formation (see LRRK2 Kinase Regulates Synaptic Morphology through Distinct Substrates at the Presynaptic and Postsynaptic Compartments of the Drosophila Neuromuscular Junction). Hypothetically, disregulation of LRRK2 might disrupt synapses and lead to neurodegeneration.