Abnormal gene copying seen in tauopathy fruit fly models
Congratulations to Dr. Bess Frost on her new publication in Nature Neuroscience, “Pathogenic tau-induced piRNA depletion promotes neuronal death through transposable element dysregulation in neurodegenerative tauopathies.”
The Frost laboratory studies fundamental processes in cell biology that drive neurodegeneration and employs a multi-system approach to rapidly identify, test, and validate hypotheses.
The study, which was spearheaded by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Wenyan Sun, used fruit fly models to show that the toxic forms of tau that accumulate in neurodegenerative tauopathies causes active mobilization of transposable elements, and that transpososable element jumping causally contributes to death of neurons.
The researchers also showed that treating the fruit fly model with the drug lamivudine, a reverse transcriptase inhibitor that is approved for treating HIV and hepatitis B, could effectively halt transposable element jumping and reduce tau-induced neurotoxicity in the flies.