Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system for identifying effectors of α-synuclein misfolding and dopaminergic cell death associated with Parkinson's disease

Academic Article


  • Protein misfolding and aggregation are key pathological features observed in numerous neurodegenerative diseases, including the misfolding of α-synuclein (α-syn) in Parkinson's disease (PD) and β-amyloid in Alzheimer's disease. While this phenomenon is widely observed, the etiology and progression of these diseases is not fully understood. Furthermore, there is a lack of therapeutic treatments directed at halting the progression and neurodegeneration associated with these diseases. This demands a need for an inexpensive, easy to manipulate multicellular organism to conduct both genetic and chemical screens within to identify factors that may play a pivotal role in the pathology of these diseases. Herein, we describe methodology involved in identifying genetic modifiers of α-syn misfolding and toxicity in the nematode roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans. Transgenic nematodes engineered to express human α-syn in the body wall muscles or dopaminergic (DA) neurons result in formation of cytoplasmic puncta or DA neurodegeneration, respectively. Using these models, we describe the use of RNA interference (RNAi) and transgenic gene expression to functionally elucidate potential therapeutic gene targets that alter α-syn misfolding and DA neurotoxicity. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Methods  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Harrington AJ; Knight AL; Caldwell GA; Caldwell KA
  • Start Page

  • 220
  • End Page

  • 225
  • Volume

  • 53
  • Issue

  • 3