Why Do Dopamine Neurons Die Particularly Fast in a Specific Brain Area?

Research team from York uses confocal microscopy from ZEISS to investigate neurodegeneration processes in Parkinson’s disease

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People with Parkinson’s lose control of their muscles, resulting in changes of speech and gait. It is caused by the death of a specific population of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra – a specific brain area that plays an important role in movement.

In a recent paper, a research team from the University of York studied Drosophila dopamine neurons using ZEISS LSM 780 in the Bioscience Technology Facility to investigate basic processes of neurodegenerative diseases. Inherited mutations in the LRRK2 (Leucine-rich-repeat kinase2) protein are the most common known cause of Parkinson’s. The authors focused on this LRRK2-G2019S mutation. Rabs – proteins involved in transmitting signals within cells – are a plausible LRRK2 substrate leading to neurodegeneration, as they act as molecular switches interacting with a range of proteins regulating supply and delivery of cargo to membranes.

Variations in Rab expression contribute to differences in neurodegeneration seen in Parkinson’s
Rab10 is expressed (magenta) in the dopaminergic neurons (green) controlling vision (MC neurons, white, Aii) and proboscis movement (TH-VUM, Aiii). With a higher magnification objective, the TH-VUM is seen to have green cytoplasm (anti-tyrosine hydroxylase antibody) and magenta nucleus (Rab10-RFP). However, other dopamine neurons are not Rab10 positive (green arrows). This distribution is confirmed using a second expression system (B)

“Using ZEISS LSM 780 generated crisp, detailed images of the distribution of proteins, like Rab10, both in the fly brain, and within specific brain neurons” said Dr Chris Elliott, lead author of the publication.

The research team proposed that variations in Rab expression contribute to differences in neurodegeneration seen in Parkinson’s. These findings could potentially lead to new treatments, targeted to specific brain regions.

Access the paper here for free

More information on confocal microscopy from ZEISS

Tags: Confocal Microscopy

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