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BMB Rep. 2015 Aug;48(8):445-53.

Drosophila as a model for unfolded protein response research.

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Department of Cell Biology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) is an organelle where most secretory and membrane proteins are synthesized, folded, and undergo further maturation. As numerous conditions can perturb such ER function, eukaryotic cells are equipped with responsive signaling pathways, widely referred to as the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR). Chronic conditions of ER stress that cannot be fully resolved by UPR, or conditions that impair UPR signaling itself, are associated with many metabolic and degenerative diseases. In recent years, Drosophila has been actively employed to study such connections between UPR and disease. Notably, the UPR pathways are largely conserved between Drosophila and humans, and the mediating genes are essential for development in both organisms, indicating their requirement to resolve inherent stress. By now, many Drosophila mutations are known to impose stress in the ER, and a number of these appear similar to those that underlie human diseases. In addition, studies have employed the strategy of overexpressing human mutations in Drosophila tissues to perform genetic modifier screens. The fact that the basic UPR pathways are conserved, together with the availability of many human disease models in this organism, makes Drosophila a powerful tool for studying human disease mechanisms.

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