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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 May 31;102(22):8024-9. Epub 2005 May 23.

Increased glutathione S-transferase activity rescues dopaminergic neuron loss in a Drosophila model of Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Loss-of-function mutations of the parkin gene are a major cause of early-onset parkinsonism. To explore the mechanism by which loss of parkin function results in neurodegeneration, we are using a genetic approach in Drosophila. Here, we show that Drosophila parkin mutants display degeneration of a subset of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the brain. The neurodegenerative phenotype of parkin mutants is enhanced by loss-of-function mutations of the glutathione S-transferase S1 (GstS1) gene, which were identified in an unbiased genetic screen for genes that modify parkin phenotypes. Furthermore, overexpression of GstS1 in DA neurons suppresses neurodegeneration in parkin mutants. Given the previous evidence for altered glutathione metabolism and oxidative stress in sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD), these data suggest that the mechanism of DA neuron loss in Drosophila parkin mutants is similar to the mechanisms underlying sporadic PD. Moreover, these findings identify a potential therapeutic approach in treating PD.

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