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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Feb 16;107(7):3169-74. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0913602107. Epub 2010 Jan 26.

A Drosophila model for TDP-43 proteinopathy.

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Department of Neurology, Lurie Cancer Center, Center for Genetic Medicine, Northwestern University School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Neuropathology involving TAR DNA binding protein-43 (TDP-43) has been identified in a wide spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases collectively named as TDP-43 proteinopathy, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD). To test whether increased expression of wide-type human TDP-43 (hTDP-43) may cause neurotoxicity in vivo, we generated transgenic flies expressing hTDP-43 in various neuronal subpopulations. Expression in the fly eyes of the full-length hTDP-43, but not a mutant lacking its amino-terminal domain, led to progressive loss of ommatidia with remarkable signs of neurodegeneration. Expressing hTDP-43 in mushroom bodies (MBs) resulted in dramatic axon losses and neuronal death. Furthermore, hTDP-43 expression in motor neurons led to axon swelling, reduction in axon branches and bouton numbers, and motor neuron loss together with functional deficits. Thus, our transgenic flies expressing hTDP-43 recapitulate important neuropathological and clinical features of human TDP-43 proteinopathy, providing a powerful animal model for this group of devastating diseases. Our study indicates that simply increasing hTDP-43 expression is sufficient to cause neurotoxicity in vivo, suggesting that aberrant regulation of TDP-43 expression or decreased clearance of hTDP-43 may contribute to the pathogenesis of TDP-43 proteinopathy.

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