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Lin, W.H., Giachello, C.N., Baines, R.A. (2017). Seizure control through genetic and pharmacological manipulation of Pumilio in Drosophila: a key component of neuronal homeostasis.  Dis. Model Mech. 10(2): 141--150.
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Research paper

Epilepsy is a significant disorder for which approximately one-third of patients do not respond to drug treatments. Next-generation drugs, which interact with novel targets, are required to provide a better clinical outcome for these individuals. To identify potential novel targets for antiepileptic drug (AED) design, we used RNA sequencing to identify changes in gene transcription in two seizure models of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster The first model compared gene transcription between wild type (WT) and bangsenseless(1) (para(bss)), a gain-of-function mutant in the sole fly voltage-gated sodium channel (paralytic). The second model compared WT with WT fed the proconvulsant picrotoxin (PTX). We identified 743 genes (FDR≤1%) with significant altered expression levels that are common to both seizure models. Of these, 339 are consistently upregulated and 397 downregulated. We identify pumilio (pum) to be downregulated in both seizure models. Pum is a known homeostatic regulator of action potential firing in both flies and mammals, achieving control of neuronal firing through binding to, and regulating translation of, the mRNA transcripts of voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav). We show that maintaining expression of pum in the CNS of para(bss) flies is potently anticonvulsive, whereas its reduction through RNAi-mediated knockdown is proconvulsive. Using a cell-based luciferase reporter screen, we screened a repurposed chemical library and identified 12 compounds sufficient to increase activity of pum Of these compounds, we focus on avobenzone, which significantly rescues seizure behaviour in para(bss) flies. The mode of action of avobenzone includes potentiation of pum expression and mirrors the ability of this homeostatic regulator to reduce the persistent voltage-gated Na(+) current (INaP) in an identified neuron. This study reports a novel approach to suppress seizure and highlights the mechanisms of neuronal homeostasis as potential targets for next-generation AEDs.

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PMC5312004 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Publication Type
    Dis. Model Mech.
    Disease models & mechanisms
    1754-8403 1754-8411
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    Alleles (7)
    Genes (744)
    Human Disease Models (2)
    Cell Lines (1)
    Transgenic Constructs (5)