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Zhan, L., Xie, Q., Tibbetts, R.S. (2015). Opposing roles of p38 and JNK in a Drosophila model of TDP-43 proteinopathy reveal oxidative stress and innate immunity as pathogenic components of neurodegeneration.  Hum. Mol. Genet. 24(3): 757--772.
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Pathological aggregation and mutation of the 43-kDa TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) are strongly implicated in the pathogenesis amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. TDP-43 neurotoxicity has been extensively modeled in mice, zebrafish, Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila, where selective expression of TDP-43 in motoneurons led to paralysis and premature lethality. Through a genetic screen aimed to identify genetic modifiers of TDP-43, we found that the Drosophila dual leucine kinase Wallenda (Wnd) and its downstream kinases JNK and p38 influenced TDP-43 neurotoxicity. Reducing Wnd gene dosage or overexpressing its antagonist highwire partially rescued TDP-43-associated premature lethality. Downstream of Wnd, the JNK and p38 kinases played opposing roles in TDP-43-associated neurodegeneration. LOF alleles of the p38b gene as well as p38 inhibitors diminished TDP-43-associated premature lethality, whereas p38b GOF caused phenotypic worsening. In stark contrast, disruptive alleles of Basket (Bsk), the Drosophila homologue of JNK, exacerbated longevity shortening, whereas overexpression of Bsk extended lifespan. Among possible mechanisms, we found motoneuron-directed expression of TDP-43 elicited oxidative stress and innate immune gene activation that were exacerbated by p38 GOF and Bsk LOF, respectively. A key pathologic role for innate immunity in TDP-43-associated neurodegeneration was further supported by the finding that genetic suppression of the Toll/Dif and Imd/Relish inflammatory pathways dramatically extended lifespan of TDP-43 transgenic flies. We propose that oxidative stress and neuroinflammation are intrinsic components of TDP-43-associated neurodegeneration and that the balance between cytoprotective JNK and cytotoxic p38 signaling dictates phenotypic outcome to TDP-43 expression in Drosophila.

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PMC4291250 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Hum. Mol. Genet.
    Human Molecular Genetics
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