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hVAPB, the causative gene of a heterogeneous group of motor neuron diseases in humans, is functionally interchangeable with its Drosophila homologue DVAP-33A at the neuromuscular junction.

Authors
  • Chai, Andrea1
  • Withers, James
  • Koh, Young Ho
  • Parry, Katherine
  • Bao, Hong
  • Zhang, Bing
  • Budnik, Vivian
  • Pennetta, Giuseppa
  • 1 Center for Neuroscience Research, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1QH, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Human Molecular Genetics
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Jan 15, 2008
Volume
17
Issue
2
Pages
266–280
Identifiers
PMID: 17947296
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) are progressive neurodegenerative disorders characterized by selective death of motor neurons leading to spasticity, muscle wasting and paralysis. Human VAMP-associated protein B (hVAPB) is the causative gene of a clinically diverse group of MNDs including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), atypical ALS and late-onset spinal muscular atrophy. The pathogenic mutation is inherited in a dominant manner. Drosophila VAMP-associated protein of 33 kDa A (DVAP-33A) is the structural homologue of hVAPB and regulates synaptic remodeling by affecting the size and number of boutons at neuromuscular junctions. Associated with these structural alterations are compensatory changes in the physiology and ultrastructure of synapses, which maintain evoked responses within normal boundaries. DVAP-33A and hVAPB are functionally interchangeable and transgenic expression of mutant DVAP-33A in neurons recapitulates major hallmarks of the human diseases including locomotion defects, neuronal death and aggregate formation. Aggregate accumulation is accompanied by a depletion of the endogenous protein from its normal localization. These findings pinpoint to a possible role of hVAPB in synaptic homeostasis and emphasize the relevance of our fly model in elucidating the patho-physiology underlying motor neuron degeneration in humans.

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