In findings that support a relationship between agricultural chemicals and Parkinsons disease, two groups of researchers have found new evidence that loss of DJ-1, a gene known to be linked to inherited Parkinsons disease, leads to striking sensitivity to the herbicide paraquat and the insecticide rotenone. The two studies were performed with the fruit fly Drosophila, a widely used model organism for studies of human disease, and shed new light on biological connections between inherited and sporadic forms of Parkinsons disease.
The work is reported in Current Biology by two independent groups, one led by Nancy Bonini of the University of Pennsylvania and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the other led by Kyung-Tai Min of the NINDS branch of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Parkinsons disease occurs both sporadically and as a result of inheritance of single gene mutations. One of the most common neurodegenerative disorders, it is associated with the progressive and selective loss of a specific population of neurons in the brain, the dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta . Exposure to several common environmental toxins, thought to injure neurons through oxidative damage, has been shown to be associated with sporadic forms of Parkinsons disease. During the past decade, researchers have also made remarkable progress in identifying genes responsible for inherited forms of Parkinsons disease, with the expectation that understanding the function of these genes will elucidate mechanisms behind sporadic Parkinsons disease. Past work had shown that one form of familial Parkinsons disease results from a loss of function of a gene called DJ-1.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
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