Líffræðifélag Íslands - biologia.is
Líffræðiráðstefnan 2019

Erindi/veggspjald / Talk/poster V29

The study of neurodegenerative phenotypes in Drosophila melanogaster

Höfundar / Authors: Friðrik Björn Kjartansson, Arnar Þór Björgvinsson, Kristín E. Allison, Zophonías O. Jónsson, Sigríður Rut Franzdóttir

Starfsvettvangur / Affiliations: Líf- og umhverfisvísindastofnun Háskóla Íslands

Kynnir / Presenter: Friðrik Björn Kjartansson

The majority of neurodegenerative diseases are thought to be caused by cytotoxicity due to the intra- and extracellular accumulation of misfolded protein aggregates. When cells experience too much buildup of protein aggregates for the proteasome to handle, i.e. due to age or stress, they sequester the aggregates into so-called aggresomes. The ubiquitous proteins Pontin and Reptin are known to have chaperone activity and are suspected to be involved with aggresome formation among other things (Mao et al, Front Mol Biosci. 2017). Does this mean that aggregate formation and neurodegeneration are increased when the proteins are knocked down in the nervous system? Loss of the proteins is lethal in all species tested, so to investigate this, we use conditional Gal4/UAS expression systems in Drosophila melanogaster to knock down gene expression only in neural tissues and test for neurodegenerative phenotypes and protein aggregation. Based on so-called ethoscopes (Geissmann et al., Plos Biology, 2017), we are developing automated systems for tracking movement and assessing phototaxis in multiple fly groups simultaneously, which will be useful for activity analysis not only in this project but also for research on other small organisms. We are also setting up genetic systems to test the effect of altered expression of the two proteins on aggregate formation and neurodegeneration in Drosophila models of human neurodegenerative disorders, using fluorescently tagged disease peptides.