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Neuronal loss of Drosophila NPC1a causes cholesterol aggregation and age-progressive neurodegeneration.


AUTHORS

Phillips SE , Woodruff EA , Liang P , Patten M , Broadie K , . The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2008 6 25; 28(26). 6569-82

ABSTRACT

The mistrafficking and consequent cytoplasmic accumulation of cholesterol and sphingolipids is linked to multiple neurodegenerative diseases. One class of disease, the sphingolipid storage diseases, includes Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC), caused predominantly (95%) by mutation of the NPC1 gene. A disease model has been established through mutation of Drosophila NPC1a (dnpc1a). Null mutants display early lethality attributable to loss of cholesterol-dependent ecdysone steroid hormone production. Null mutants rescued to adults by restoring ecdysone production mimic human NPC patients with progressive motor defects and reduced life spans. Analysis of dnpc1a null brains shows elevated overall cholesterol levels and progressive accumulation of filipin-positive cholesterol aggregates within brain and retina, as well as isolated cultured brain neurons. Ultrastructural imaging of dnpc1a mutant brains reveals age-progressive accumulation of striking multilamellar and multivesicular organelles, preceding the onset of neurodegeneration. Consistently, electroretinogram recordings show age-progressive loss of phototransduction and photoreceptor synaptic transmission. Early lethality, movement impairments, neuronal cholesterol deposits, accumulation of multilamellar bodies, and age-dependent neurodegeneration are all rescued by targeted neuronal expression of a wild-type dnpc1a transgene. Interestingly, targeted expression of dnpc1a in glia also provides limited rescue of adult lethality. Generation of dnpc1a null mutant neuron clones in the brain reveals cell-autonomous requirements for dNPC1a in cholesterol and membrane trafficking. These data demonstrate a requirement for dNPC1a in the maintenance of neuronal function and viability and show that loss of dNPC1a in neurons mimics the human neurodegenerative condition.


The mistrafficking and consequent cytoplasmic accumulation of cholesterol and sphingolipids is linked to multiple neurodegenerative diseases. One class of disease, the sphingolipid storage diseases, includes Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC), caused predominantly (95%) by mutation of the NPC1 gene. A disease model has been established through mutation of Drosophila NPC1a (dnpc1a). Null mutants display early lethality attributable to loss of cholesterol-dependent ecdysone steroid hormone production. Null mutants rescued to adults by restoring ecdysone production mimic human NPC patients with progressive motor defects and reduced life spans. Analysis of dnpc1a null brains shows elevated overall cholesterol levels and progressive accumulation of filipin-positive cholesterol aggregates within brain and retina, as well as isolated cultured brain neurons. Ultrastructural imaging of dnpc1a mutant brains reveals age-progressive accumulation of striking multilamellar and multivesicular organelles, preceding the onset of neurodegeneration. Consistently, electroretinogram recordings show age-progressive loss of phototransduction and photoreceptor synaptic transmission. Early lethality, movement impairments, neuronal cholesterol deposits, accumulation of multilamellar bodies, and age-dependent neurodegeneration are all rescued by targeted neuronal expression of a wild-type dnpc1a transgene. Interestingly, targeted expression of dnpc1a in glia also provides limited rescue of adult lethality. Generation of dnpc1a null mutant neuron clones in the brain reveals cell-autonomous requirements for dNPC1a in cholesterol and membrane trafficking. These data demonstrate a requirement for dNPC1a in the maintenance of neuronal function and viability and show that loss of dNPC1a in neurons mimics the human neurodegenerative condition.


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