Neurodegenerative Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a multifactorial disorder; effects like alpha synuclein
aggregation, low dopamine levels and dopaminergic neurodegeneration are considered to be hallmarks of the disease.
Several recent studies have pointed towards an important role of enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in the
pathophysiology of PD. We embarked on the present studies to explore the mechanistic role of C. elegans gene cat-2, a
putative tyrosine hydroxylase, in PD. Utilizing the powerful genetic model system C. elegans, which has previously
provided critical understanding of several human diseases, we employed a reverse genetics approach via RNAi mediated
gene silencing of cat-2, to study various disease related effects in three different transgenic strains of the nematode.
Knocking-down of cat-2 led to increase in aggregation of alpha synuclein, as was studied via expression of YFP.
Similarly the silencing of cat-2 had significant effects on associated endpoints including oxidative stress, lipid content and
neurotransmission; exemplifying the role of cat-2, the putative tyrosine hydroxylase, in Parkinsonism of the nematode
model. The findings are significant as this model could further be used to study the entire associated pathway in greater
detail and with the advantages that the model system C. elegans presents, the knockdown of cat-2 in the alpha synuclein
expressing strain, could be employed for screening potential pharmacological agents targeted at TH which could lead to
designing of possible therapeutic interventions for the disease.
Keywords: cat-2, C. elegans, neurodegeneration, Parkinson’s disease, RNAi, tyrosine hydroxylase.
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