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Mallik, M., Lakhotia, S.C. (2009). RNAi for the large non-coding hsromega transcripts suppresses polyglutamine pathogenesis in Drosophila models.  RNA Biol. 6(4): 464--478.
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Polyglutamine diseases are a class of inherited neurodegenerative disorders, characterized by expansion of CAG trinucleotide repeats translated into elongated glutamine tracts within the mutant proteins. Overexpression of the non-coding hsromega transcripts has been shown to dominantly enhance polyQ induced cytotoxicity in Drosophila. In the present study we demonstrate that RNA interference mediated downregulation of hsromega-n transcripts is sufficient to suppress pathogenesis in several Drosophila models of human polyQ neurodegenerative diseases. Loss of hsromega-n RNA not only suppresses the eye-specific degeneration mediated by GMR-GAL4 driven expression of the 127Q or MJDtr-Q78 or ataxin1 82Q or httex1p Q93 transgene, but also rescues premature death of flies expressing the expanded polyQ proteins pan-neuronally using the elav-GAL4 driver. We further demonstrate that the morphological and functional rescue of polyQ toxicity observed upon hsromega-n RNAi is associated with substantial reduction of polyQ protein aggregation without affecting transcription of the 127Q transgene. Unlike in the polyQ expressing cells, co-expression of hsromega-n RNAi also abolishes the induction of Hsp70. These results suggest that the hsromega transcripts have a role in early stages of polyQ aggregate formation. Interestingly, hsromega-RNAi has, at best, only a marginal effect on neuropathy following overexpression of normal or mutant tau protein in flies. Functional analogues of the large non-coding hsromega transcripts in human thus appear to be promising candidates as therapeutic targets for the polyQ-mediated neurodegenerative diseases.

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    RNA Biol.
    RNA Biology.
    Publication Year
    1547-6286 1555-8584
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