Distinctive alteration in the expression of autophagy genes in Drosophila models of amyloidopathy and tauopathy


Background: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is one the most common types of dementia. Plaques of amyloid beta and neurofibrillary tangles of tau are two major hallmarks of AD. Metabolism of these two proteins, in part, depends on autophagy pathways. Autophagy dysfunction and protein aggregation in AD may be involved in a vicious circle. The aim of this study was to investigate whether tau or amyloid beta 42 (A$β$42) could affect expression of autophagy genes, and whether they exert their effects in the same way or not. Methods: Expression levels of some autophagy genes, Hook, Atg6, Atg8, and Cathepsin D, were measured using quantitative PCR in transgenic Drosophila melanogaster expressing either A$β$42 or Tau R406W. Results: We found that Hook mRNA levels were downregulated in A$β$42-expressing flies both 5 and 25 days old, while they were increased in 25-day-old flies expressing Tau R406W. Both Atg6 and Atg8 were upregulated at day 5 and then downregulated in 25-day-old flies expressing either A$β$42 or Tau R406W. Cathepsin D expression levels were significantly increased in 5-day-old flies expressing Tau R406W, while there was no significant change in the expression levels of this gene in 5-day-old flies expressing A$β$42. Expression levels of Cathepsin D were significantly decreased in 25-day-old transgenic flies expressing Tau R406W or A$β$42. Conclusion: We conclude that both A$β$42 and Tau R406W may affect autophagy through dysregulation of autophagy genes. Interestingly, it seems that these pathological proteins exert their toxic effects on autophagy through different pathways and independently.

Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences