Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Animal model of Parkinson’s disease reveals striking sensitivity to common environmental toxins


In findings that support a relationship between agricultural chemicals and Parkinson’s disease, two groups of researchers have found new evidence that loss of DJ-1, a gene known to be linked to inherited Parkinson’s 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 Parkinson’s 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.

Parkinson’s 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 Parkinson’s disease. During the past decade, researchers have also made remarkable progress in identifying genes responsible for inherited forms of Parkinson’s disease, with the expectation that understanding the function of these genes will elucidate mechanisms behind sporadic Parkinson’s disease. Past work had shown that one form of familial Parkinson’s disease results from a loss of function of a gene called DJ-1.

The fruit fly possesses two versions of the DJ-1 gene, and in the new work, the researchers simulated the human Parkinson’s disease situation by deleting one or both forms of DJ-1 from the fly’s DNA.

Bonini and colleagues showed that flies lacking both forms of DJ-1 activity are normal under standard conditions. However, upon exposure to widely used agricultural agents, including paraquat and rotenone, previously associated with the sporadic form of Parkinson’s disease, the flies show strikingly increased sensitivity and death. These findings suggest that loss of DJ-1 function leads to an increased sensitivity to chemical agents that cause oxidative damage.

Min and his colleagues found that loss of function of one form of fly DJ-1, DJ-1b, caused a compensatory boost in expression of the other form of the gene, DJ-1a. These flies, lacking DJ-1â function but having increased DJ-1á activity, showed extended survival of dopaminergic neurons and resistance to oxidative stress caused by the chemical paraquat, but at the same time they also exhibited acute sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide treatment. The results showed that overexpression of DJ-1a in dopaminergic neurons is sufficient to confer protection against paraquat insult.

Together, the results from the two studies suggest that Drosophila DJ-1 genes, and potentially human DJ-1, play critical roles in the survival of dopaminergic neurons and the response to oxidative cellular stress. In addition, the studies also highlight DJ-1 as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>