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Fruit flies reveal mechanism behind ALS-like disease
Date:6/13/2012

on's disease. p150glued is part of a larger complex of proteins that forms a molecular "motor" capable of transporting various molecules and other "cargo" from the nerve end toward the cell body. To better understand how mutations in p150glued lead to HMN7B and Perry syndrome, the researchers turned to fruit flies, which are easy to genetically manipulate and where the same protein has been well studied.

They engineered the fruit fly p150glued protein to contain the same mutations as those implicated in the two diseases and used microscopy techniques that enable them to follow in live cells the movement of fluorescently tagged cargo along motor neurons.

They found, surprisingly, that the movement of cargo along the length of the cell was normal. However, at the far end of the cell, they found that the HMN7B-associated mutation caused an unusually large accumulation of cargo. "This was an unexpected finding," says Thomas Lloyd, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in neurology and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "We need to better understand how this is causing disease."

Using flies engineered to contain mutations in other motor proteins, and again watching cargo transport in live cells, the team found that p150glued works in concert with another motor to control cargo transport. Their results suggest that when p150glued is compromised, this control is lost and cargo accumulates at the nerve end, leading to disease.

"It's still unclear how these two different mutations in different regions of the same protein cause very distinct neurodegenerative diseases," Lloyd says. Encouraged by their results, the team plans to continue using fruit flies to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying these diseases.


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Contact: Audrey Huang
audrey@jhmi.edu
410-614-5105
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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