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Drosophila Neurotrophins Reveal a Common Mechanism for Nervous System Formation

Zhu, Bangfu and Pennack, Jenny A. and McQuilton, Peter and Forero, Manuel G. and Mizuguch, Kenji and Sutcliffe, Ben and Gu, Chun-Jing and Fenton, Janine C. and Hidalgo, Alicia (2008) Drosophila Neurotrophins Reveal a Common Mechanism for Nervous System Formation. PLoS Biology, 6 (11). ISSN 1544-9173

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URL of Published Version: http://www.biosciences.bham.ac.uk/about/staff.htm

Identification Number/DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060284

Neurotrophic interactions occur in Drosophila, but to date, no neurotrophic factor had been found. Neurotrophins are the main vertebrate secreted signalling molecules that link nervous system structure and function: they regulate
neuronal survival, targeting, synaptic plasticity, memory and cognition. We have identified a neurotrophic factor in
flies, Drosophila Neurotrophin (DNT1), structurally related to all known neurotrophins and highly conserved in insects.By investigating with genetics the consequences of removing DNT1 or adding it in excess, we show that DNT1
maintains neuronal survival, as more neurons die in DNT1 mutants and expression of DNT1 rescues naturally occurring
cell death, and it enables targeting by motor neurons. We show that Spa¨ tzle and a further fly neurotrophin superfamily member, DNT2, also have neurotrophic functions in flies. Our findings imply that most likely a neurotrophin was present in the common ancestor of all bilateral organisms, giving rise to invertebrate and vertebrate neurotrophins through gene or whole-genome duplications. This work provides a missing link between aspects of neuronal function in flies and vertebrates, and it opens the opportunity to use Drosophila to investigate further aspects of neurotrophin function and to model related diseases.

Type of Work:Article
Date:2008 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Biosciences
Department:Molecular Cell Biology
Subjects:Q Science (General)
R Medicine (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Public Library of Science
ID Code:120
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