Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition associated with focal atrophy of the frontal and/or temporal lobes. Recent exciting progress indicates that FTLD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) share pathogenic mechanisms. For instance, TDP-43, an evolutionarily conserved RNA- binding protein mostly localized to the nucleus, is a major pathogenic protein involved in FTLD and ALS, and in other neurodegenerative diseases. However, little is known about how TDP-43 contributes to age-dependent neurodegeneration. TDP-43 contributes to several aspects of RNA metabolism, and disease initiation or progression may involve both loss of the normal function of TDP-43 and toxic gain-of-function mechanisms. To dissect these complex mechanisms in detail, proper in vivo animal models are critically important. We propose to establish novel Drosophila models of TDP-43 toxicity and investigate how disease mutations compromise the function of TDP-43 and lead to neuronal dysfunction in vivo. These studies will likely provide important insights into the molecular pathogenic mechanisms of several neurodegenerative diseases that involve TDP- 43 pathology.
In this proposal, we will establish a novel fly model of neurodegeneration and perform a number of genetic and molecular experiments. These studies will offer novel mechanistic insights into the neurotoxicity of mutant TDP-43, which will likely enhance our understanding of molecular pathogenic mechanisms of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
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|Li, Zhaodong; Lu, Yubing; Xu, Xia-Lian et al. (2013) The FTD/ALS-associated RNA-binding protein TDP-43 regulates the robustness of neuronal specification through microRNA-9a in Drosophila. Hum Mol Genet 22:218-25|