Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Lotus Lum L&S Sciences

Investigating the Role of a Truncated LRRK2 Product in Parkinsons Disease

One million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by neuronal death and motor symptoms such as bradykinesia and tremors. Unfortunately, there is no treatment that prevents, reverses or even delays PD. My research focuses on the protein called the Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2), which is the most common site for mutations in PD. However, the mechanism by which LRRK2 causes PD is unknown. With the help of my lab at UCSF, I have uncovered that a sizable amount of intracellular LRRK2 is processed to a shorter ~160 kD version of LRRK2 missing its N-terminus. This exciting piece of LRRK2 biology has remained unknown because the protein is lowly expressed in most cells. This project will define the shortened sequence of LRRK2, determine how it is generated in the cell, and begin to test its cellular functions. Specifically, I will test the hypotheses that an unidentified protease cleaves LRRK2 and that these two products have different functions.

Message To Sponsor

To the Thye Fund, I cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for your sponsorship through SURF. Your support allowed me to spend my entire summer in my lab without having to worry about a part-time job to pay for my living expenses and gave me a head start on my honors thesis. My SURF experience has solidified my consideration to pursue an MD/PhD degree to become a physician-scientist to continue doing research as a career. It also gave me the opportunity and confidence to present and talk about my work in front of my peers, which is something I had always struggled with in the past. Being able to perform full-time research this summer really made me fall in love with biomedical research and I hope to continue doing impactful research in either medical or graduate school. Thank you again!
Major: Molecular Cell Biology
Mentor: Jen-Chywan Wang
Sponsor: Thye L&S
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