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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Oct 10;103(41):14987-93. Epub 2006 Sep 28.

wasted away, a Drosophila mutation in triosephosphate isomerase, causes paralysis, neurodegeneration, and early death.

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Laboratory of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, 425-G Henry Mall, Madison, WI 53706-1580, USA.


To identify genes required for maintaining neuronal viability, we screened our collection of Drosophila temperature-sensitive paralytic mutants for those exhibiting shortened lifespan and neurodegeneration. Here, we describe the characterization of wasted away (wstd), a recessive, hypomorphic mutation that causes progressive motor impairment, vacuolar neuropathology, and severely reduced lifespan. We demonstrate that the affected gene encodes the glycolytic enzyme, triosephosphate isomerase (Tpi). Mutations causing Tpi deficiency in humans are also characterized by progressive neurological dysfunction, neurodegeneration, and early death. In Tpi-deficient flies and humans, a decrease in ATP levels did not appear to cause the observed phenotypes because ATP levels remained normal. We also found no genetic evidence that the mutant Drosophila Tpi was misfolded or involved in aberrant protein-protein associations. Instead, we favor the hypothesis that mutations in Tpi lead to an accumulation of methylglyoxal and the consequent enhanced production of advanced glycation end products, which are ultimately responsible for the death and dysfunction of Tpi-deficient neurons. Our results highlight an essential protective role of Tpi and support the idea that advanced glycation end products may also contribute to pathogenesis of other neurological disorders.

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