A Drosophila Model of ALS: Human ALS-Associated Mutation in VAP33A Suggests a Dominant Negative Mechanism
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0002334
ALS8 is caused by a dominant mutation in an evolutionarily conserved protein, VAPB (vesicle-associated membrane protein (VAMP)-associated membrane protein B)/ALS8). We have established a fly model of ALS8 using the corresponding mutation in Drosophila VAPB (dVAP33A) and examined the effects of this mutation on VAP function using genetic and morphological analyses. By simultaneously assessing the effects of VAP(wt) and VAP(P58S) on synaptic morphology and structure, we demonstrate that the phenotypes produced by neuronal expression of VAP(P58S) resemble VAP loss of function mutants and are opposite those of VAP overexpression, suggesting that VAP(P58S) may function as a dominant negative. This is brought about by aggregation of VAP(P58S) and recruitment of wild type VAP into these aggregates. Importantly, we also demonstrate that the ALS8 mutation in dVAP33A interferes with BMP signaling pathways at the neuromuscular junction, identifying a new mechanism underlying pathogenesis of ALS8. Furthermore, we show that mutant dVAP33A can serve as a powerful tool to identify genetic modifiers of VAPB. This new fly model of ALS, with its robust pathological phenotypes, should for the first time allow the power of unbiased screens in Drosophila to be applied to study of motor neuron diseases.