Drosophila Atlastin in motor neurons is required for locomotion and presynaptic function


Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are characterized by spasticity and weakness of the lower limbs, resulting from length-dependent axonopathy of the corticospinal tracts. In humans, the HSP-related atlastin genes ATL1–ATL3 catalyze homotypic membrane fusion of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) tubules. How defects in neuronal Atlastin contribute to axonal degeneration has not been explained satisfactorily. Using Drosophila, we demonstrate that downregulation or overexpression of Atlastin in motor neurons results in decreased crawling speed and contraction frequency in larvae, while adult flies show progressive decline in climbing ability. Broad expression in the nervous system is required to rescue the atlastin-null Drosophila mutant (atl2) phenotype. Importantly, both spontaneous release and the reserve pool of synaptic vesicles are affected. Additionally, axonal secretory organelles are abnormally distributed, whereas presynaptic proteins diminish at terminals and accumulate in distal axons, possibly in lysosomes. Our findings suggest that trafficking defects produced by Atlastin dysfunction in motor neurons result in redistribution of presynaptic components and aberrant mobilization of synaptic vesicles, stressing the importance of ER-shaping proteins and the susceptibility of motor neurons to their mutations or depletion.

De Gregorio C, Delgado R, Ibacache A, Sierralta J, Couve A

Journal Of Cell Science

octubre 15, 2017

DOI: 10.1242/jcs.201657

Investigador BNI: , Jimena Sierralta