Characterizing the spargel, nutcracker, PI31 and FBXO9 homologues as models of Parkinson Disease in Drosophila melanogaster

Merzetti, Eric M. (2016) Characterizing the spargel, nutcracker, PI31 and FBXO9 homologues as models of Parkinson Disease in Drosophila melanogaster. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Parkinson Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder resulting from the premature destruction or improper function of dopamine producing neurons in the striatum of the brain. Symptoms include resting tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, postural instability, gait abnormality and additional severe cognitive impairment. Although Parkinson Disease has historically been thought of as a disease with sporadic origin, there are a number of genetic links and specific gene mutations found conserved across patients. These mutations are typically found in genes responsible for the proper functioning of proteasome activity or intracellular organelle homeostasis. The upkeep and repair of mitochondria involves a number of components including Pink1, Parkin, and the Peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor coactivator (PGC) family of genes. The PGC family of genes have a single homologue in Drosophila melanogaster known as spargel. In Chapter Two, I characterized this gene in neuronal tissues and found that altered gene activity in dopaminergic neurons leads to a decrease in longevity and locomotor ability over time, indicative of a Parkinson Disease like phenotype. In Homo sapiens the PGC family genes are regulated through the activity of an intermediate protein, PARIS. In Chapter Five I identified three potential homologues of the PARIS gene in D. melanogaster and compared altered expression of them in neuronal tissues resulting in the identification of a strong PARIS candidate and two novel genes involved in neuronal development. The proteasome complex acts upon and destroys proteins targeted for destruction by addition of a ubiquitin moiety. This process is undertaken by ubiquitin ligase complexes. The target specific component of many of these complexes are the F-box genes. Chapters Three and Four characterize two F-box genes implicated in H. sapiens PD and identifies putative D. melanogaster gene homologs. The results of this thesis provide expanded knowledge of both confirmed and putative D. melanogaster homologues of H. sapiens disease related genes and new model systems with which future study of disease mechanisms may be carried out.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 12460
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: Neurodegeneration, Parkinson Disease, Drosophila, Developmental Biology, Genetics
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Date: September 2016
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Parkinson's disease -- Genetic aspects

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