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Explore our research on the links between neurodegenerative disorders and intracellular trafficking pathways, with a focus on Parkinson's disease.

Our focus

Dr Kinghorn’s research group seeks to understand the underlying pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, as well as cellular models of disease. In particular, our research is focused on unravelling the underlying mechanisms linking genes involved in endosomal-lysosomal intracellular trafficking pathways to Parkinson’s disease.

Read about our projects:

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Cruciform building at University College London

A colleague has headphones on as he works at a computer desk on digitised lab results

Analyising digitised experimental datasets

A scientist with bright green fluorescent gloves and white labcoat views fruit flies under a microscope in the lab

Dr. Hull assessing Drosophila samples

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Various bottled media

Project 1

Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) are a group of metabolic disorders characterized by the accumulation of non-degraded storage material within the lysosome, the site of the breakdown of unwanted cellular waste. The lysosome is essential for a number of processes to occur within the cell, including phagocytosis, endocytosis and autophagy.


Together these pathways are responsible for the trafficking and degradation of misfolded and aggregated proteins, such as α-synuclein, the main protein found in the brains of PD patients. Defects in this system are associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and neuronal cell loss. Consistent with this, there is increasing evidence implicating changes in LSD genes in PD. The precise mechanisms linking lysosomal dysfunction to cell death are unknown.


We are studying the commonest LSD gene linked to PD, known as GBA1, using fruit fly models.  By studying the aberrant pathways in these models, we hope to gain further insights into how the loss of GBA1 gene activity and lysosomal abnormalities lead to PD.

Close up of drosophila incubating in a flash on top of a medium

Incubating Drosophila samples

Boxses of pipette tips

Filtered pipette tips for sampling

Lysosomal storage disorder genes and Parkinson's Disease

Project 2

Mutations in the PLA2G6 gene at the PARK14 locus are the cause of a group of disorders referred to as PLA2G6-associated neurodegeneration (PLAN), comprising infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy and dystonia-parkinsonism.


More recently PLA2G6 mutations have been linked to early onset Parkinson’s disease. PLA2G6 encodes an enzyme called phospholipase A2, which is responsible for the recycling of cell membrane phospholipids. Loss of normal enzyme function leads to membrane defects in the cell, including at the synapse and in mitochondria. Using fly models of PLA2G6 loss-of-function, we are interested in understanding how defects in this gene lead to neurodegeneration.

Fly models of PLA2G6-associated neurodegeneration

Close up shot of a glass flask containing drosophila pupae attached to the inside

Drosophila pupae

Two green trays holding approximately 20 experiments of drosophila in flasks sealed with cotton and coloured labels attached

Experimental specimens and their controls

Pioneering research

We've published and continue to publish a wealth of authoritative scientific papers - explore them on our publications page.

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Collaborative scientific reviews

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