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Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder affecting an estimated 5-10 million people worldwide. Recent evidence has implicated several genes that directly cause or increase susceptibility to PD. As well as advancing understanding of the genetic aetiology of PD these findings suggest new ways to modify the disease course, in some cases through genetic manipulation. Here we generated a 'walk-through' series of RNA Pol III-expressed shRNAs targeting both the α-synuclein A30P and LRRK2 G2019S PD-associated mutations. Allele-specific discrimination of the α-synuclein A30P mutation was achieved with alignments at position 10, 13 and 14 in two model systems, including a heterozygous model mimicking the disease setting, whilst 5'RACE was used to confirm stated alignments. Discrimination of the most common PD-linked LRRK2 G2019S mutation was assessed in hemizygous dual-luciferase assays and showed that alignment of the mutation opposite position 4 of the antisense species produced robust discrimination of alleles at all time points studied. Discrimination at this position was subsequently confirmed using siRNAs, where up to 10-fold discrimination was seen. The results suggest that RNAi-mediated silencing of PD-associated autosomal dominant genes could be a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of the relevant clinical cases of PD in future.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Alleles, Cell Line, Cell Survival, Humans, Leucine-Rich Repeat Serine-Threonine Protein Kinase-2, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Mutation, Parkinson Disease, Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases, RNA, Small Interfering, alpha-Synuclein