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Commun Integr Biol. 2013 Nov 1;6(6):e26807. doi: 10.4161/cib.26807. Epub 2013 Nov 13.

Rab11 as a modulator of synaptic transmission.

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Department of Genetics; University of Leicester; Leicester, UK.
MRC Toxicology Unit; University of Leicester; Leicester, UK.


Many neurodegenerative disorders are characterized by synaptic dysfunction preceding general neuronal loss and subsequent cognitive or behavioral anomalies. Much recent research has been aimed at understanding the early underlying processes leading to dysfunction at the synapse, as this knowledge would likely inform interventions that could potentially slow progression and delay onset of disease. We have recently reported that synaptic dysfunction in a Drosophila melanogaster model of Huntington's disease (HD) can be prevented by enhanced neuronal expression of Rab11, a Rab family GTPase involved in endosomal recycling, which complements studies that have found disrupted Rab11 activity in several models of this disorder. Indeed, inhibition of Rab11 function in fibroblasts of HD patients has been observed to perturb vesicle formation from recycling endosomes. Therefore, our study investigated a potential role of Rab11 in synaptic dysfunction prior to the onset of HD symptoms, with the aim of finding a possible early intervention to disease progression. We found that Rab11 ameliorates synaptic dysfunction due to expression of mutant huntingtin-the causative protein in HD-by normalizing synaptic vesicle size, which consequently ameliorates locomotor deficits in Drosophila larvae. Here we further consider these results and the implications this work has on potential therapeutic intervention in HD and other neurodegenerative disorders.


Huntington’s disease; Rab family GTPases; Rab11; huntingtin; neurodegeneration; synapse; synaptic dysfunction

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