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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of pharmacological agents upon a transgenic model of Parkinson's disease in Drosophila melanogaster.

The human gene that codes for the protein alpha-synuclein has been transferred into the Drosophila melanogaster genome. The transgenic flies recapitulate some of the essential features of Parkinson's disease. These include the degeneration of certain dopaminergic neurons in the brain accompanied by the appearance of age-dependent abnormalities in locomotor activity. In the present study, we tested the locomotor response of these transgenic flies to prototypes of the major classes of drugs currently used to treat this disorder. A time course study was first conducted to determine when impaired locomotor activity appeared relative to normal "wild-type" flies. A climbing or negative geotaxis assay measuring the ability of the organisms to climb up the walls of a plastic vial was used. Based on the results obtained, normal and transgenic flies were treated with each of the drugs in their food for 13 days and then assayed. The activity of transgenic flies treated with L-DOPA was restored to normal. Similarly, the dopamine agonists pergolide, bromocriptine, and 2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-7,8-dihydroxy- 1-phenyl-1H-3-benzazepine (SK&F 38393) were substantially effective. Atropine, the prototypical muscarinic cholinergic receptor antagonist, was also effective but to a lesser extent than the other antiparkinson compounds. p-Chlorophenylalanine, an inhibitor of serotonin synthesis, was without beneficial effect as was alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine, an inhibitor of tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting step in catecholamine biosynthesis. This behavioral study further demonstrates the utility of this model in studying Parkinson's disease and reinforces the concept that inhibition of the action of alpha-synuclein may be useful in its treatment as may dopamine D(1) receptor agonists.[1]


  1. Effects of pharmacological agents upon a transgenic model of Parkinson's disease in Drosophila melanogaster. Pendleton, R.G., Parvez, F., Sayed, M., Hillman, R. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. (2002) [Pubmed]
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