My research is focused on understanding the molecular pathways that lead to inherited Parkinson's disease linked to mutations in Leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2). Mutations in this gene are the single most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease, affecting 5-10,000 people in the UK alone.
LRRK2 itself is a multidomain enzyme, possessing both kinase and GTPase activities, and much of my work over the past 8 years has been directed at dissecting how mutations impact on these activities, and how they regulate one another. To do this, my group uses a combination of cellular and biochemical approaches, including cellular models for LRRK2 function and in vitro enzymatic assays.
We have a particular interest in investigating proteins closely related to LRRK2 as a means to achieving a greater understanding of how LRRK2 itself functions. Our research has highlighted a putative role for LRRK2 in the regulation of autophagy.