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BMC Neurosci. 2012 Jul 4;13:78. doi: 10.1186/1471-2202-13-78.

A role for the membrane protein M6 in the Drosophila visual system.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Biotecnológicas Dr, Rodolfo Ugalde, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Universidad Nacional de General San Martín, IIB, INTECH, CONICET-UNSAM, San Martín, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.



Members of the proteolipid protein family, including the four-transmembrane glycoprotein M6a, are involved in neuronal plasticity in mammals. Results from our group previously demonstrated that M6, the only proteolipid protein expressed in Drosophila, localizes to the cell membrane in follicle cells. M6 loss triggers female sterility, which suggests a role for M6 in follicular cell remodeling. These results were the basis of the present study, which focused on the function and requirements of M6 in the fly nervous system.


The present study identified two novel, tissue-regulated M6 isoforms with variable N- and C- termini, and showed that M6 is the functional fly ortholog of Gpm6a. In the adult brain, the protein was localized to several neuropils, such as the optic lobe, the central complex, and the mushroom bodies. Interestingly, although reduced M6 levels triggered a mild rough-eye phenotype, hypomorphic M6 mutants exhibited a defective response to light.


Based on its ability to induce filopodium formation we propose that M6 is key in cell remodeling processes underlying visual system function. These results bring further insight into the role of M6/M6a in biological processes involving neuronal plasticity and behavior in flies and mammals.

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