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J Neurochem. 2013 Aug;126(4):529-40. doi: 10.1111/jnc.12228. Epub 2013 Mar 24.

Selective degeneration of dopaminergic neurons by MPP(+) and its rescue by D2 autoreceptors in Drosophila primary culture.

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Neuroscience Program, Department of Biological Sciences, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45701, USA.


Drosophila melanogaster is widely used to study genetic factors causing Parkinson's disease (PD) largely because of the use of sophisticated genetic approaches and the presence of a high conservation of gene sequence/function between Drosophila and mammals. However, in Drosophila, little has been done to study the environmental factors which cause over 90% of PD cases. We used Drosophila primary neuronal culture to study degenerative effects of a well-known PD toxin MPP(+) . Dopaminergic (DA) neurons were selectively degenerated by MPP(+) , whereas cholinergic and GABAergic neurons were not affected. This DA neuronal loss was because of post-mitotic degeneration, not by inhibition of DA neuronal differentiation. We also found that MPP(+) -mediated neurodegeneration was rescued by D2 agonists quinpirole and bromocriptine. This rescue was through activation of Drosophila D2 receptor DD2R, as D2 agonists failed to rescue MPP(+) -toxicity in neuronal cultures prepared from both a DD2R deficiency line and a transgenic line pan-neuronally expressing DD2R RNAi. Furthermore, DD2R autoreceptors in DA neurons played a critical role in the rescue. When DD2R RNAi was expressed only in DA neurons, MPP(+) toxicity was not rescued by D2 agonists. Our study also showed that rescue of DA neurodegeneration by Drosophila DD2R activation was mediated through suppression of action potentials in DA neurons.


D2 agonist; DD2R; Drosophila melanogaster; Parkinson's disease; primary neuronal culture

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