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Trends Biochem Sci. 2010 Mar;35(3):135-44. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2009.10.005. Epub 2009 Nov 18.

Nervous yeast: modeling neurotoxic cell death.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Department of Microbiology, Karl-Franzens-University of Graz, Graz, Austria.


Neurodegeneration is characterized by the disease-specific loss of neuronal activity, culminating in the irreversible destruction of neurons. Neuronal cell death can proceed via distinct subroutines such as apoptosis and necrosis, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an established model for programmed cell death, characterized by distinct cell death pathways conserved from yeast to mammals. Recently, yeast models for several major classes of neurodegeneration, namely alpha-synucleinopathies, polyglutamine disorders, beta-amyloid diseases, tauopathies, and TDP-43 proteinopathies, have been established. Heterologous expression of the human proteins implicated in these disorders has unraveled important insights in their detrimental function, pointing to ways in which yeast might advance the mechanistic dissection of cell death pathways relevant for human neurodegeneration.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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