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Gajula Balija, M.B., Griesinger, C., Herzig, A., Zweckstetter, M., Jäckle, H. (2011). Pre-Fibrillar α-Synuclein Mutants Cause Parkinson's Disease-Like Non-Motor Symptoms in Drosophila.  PLoS ONE 6(9): e24701.
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Research paper

Parkinson's disease (PD) is linked to the formation of insoluble fibrillar aggregates of the presynaptic protein α-Synuclein (αS) in neurons. The appearance of such aggregates coincides with severe motor deficits in human patients. These deficits are often preceded by non-motor symptoms such as sleep-related problems in the patients. PD-like motor deficits can be recapitulated in model organisms such as Drosophila melanogaster when αS is pan-neurally expressed. Interestingly, both these deficits are more severe when αS mutants with reduced aggregation properties are expressed in flies. This indicates that that αS aggregation is not the primary cause of the PD-like motor symptoms. Here we describe a model for PD in Drosophila which utilizes the targeted expression of αS mutants in a subset of dopadecarboxylase expressing serotonergic and dopaminergic (DA) neurons. Our results show that targeted expression of pre-fibrillar αS mutants not only recapitulates PD-like motor symptoms but also the preceding non-motor symptoms such as an abnormal sleep-like behavior, altered locomotor activity and abnormal circadian periodicity. Further, the results suggest that the observed non-motor symptoms in flies are caused by an early impairment of neuronal functions rather than by the loss of neurons due to cell death.

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PMC3169624 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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