“The Greatness of the Smallest Ones”: The Most Valuable Attributes of Flies and Worms for the Study of Neurodegeneration
Pp. 49-84 (36)
Over the last decades, a large number of experimental models have been
developed to explore the mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders. Invertebrate
models of neurodegeneration, such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the
nematode Caenorhabtidis elegans, have emerged as successful complementary systems to
mammalian models, facilitating identification of relevant pathways and novel diseaseassociated
genes. These organisms provide reliable systems for identifying genetic
modifiers of neuropathologies and the interesting possibility of screening and testing
potential drugs for treatments to prevent and/or alleviate disease symptoms.
This chapter will focus on the main experimental strategies used in Drosophila
melanogaster and Caenorhabtidis elegans to study neurodegeneration. Insights from
forward genetic approaches, transgenic models of human neurodegenerative disorders
and studies of fly/worm homologs of human disease genes will be presented. The value
of using invertebrate models for the study of neurodegeneration will be discussed,
highlighting advantages and limitations associated with these studies.
Alzheimer’s disease, Caenorhabtidis elegans, Drosophila
melanogaster, drug screening, forward genetics, fruit flies, genetic enhancers,
genetic screen, genetic suppressors, Huntington’s disease, invertebrate models,
neurodegenerative diseases, neurodegeneration, neuronal death, Parkinson’s
disease, Polyglutamine diseases, reverse genetics, transgenic models, worms.
Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, OX1 3PT, Oxford, UK.