In other words, the flies, says Fischer, suffer from a kind of Angelman syndrome, and should therefore offer a useful model for understanding the biochemistry of the disorder in humans. In particular, the fly models may provide clues to which specific protein, or proteins, are accumulating in the brain and causing the dysfunction.
"We've known for more than 10 years which gene is at fault, but we haven't known some of the specifics of the process," she says. "Now that we know that the fly gene works pretty much the way that the human one does, we can look for the key substrate in flies, and eventually test likely candidates in mice and see if they're really associated with the disease."
|Contact: Dr. Janice Fischer|
University of Texas at Austin