Bar-coding neurodegeneration: identifying subcellular effects of human neurodegenerative disease proteins using Drosophila leg neurons
Aggregates of the microtubule-associated protein Tau are neuropathological hallmark lesions in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related primary tauopathies. In addition, Tau is genetically implicated in a number of human neurodegenerative disorders including frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). The exact mechanism by which Tau exerts its neurotoxicity is incompletely understood. Here, we give an overview of how studies using the genetic model organism Drosophila over the past decade have contributed to the molecular understanding of Tau neurotoxicity. We compare the different available readouts for Tau neurotoxicity in flies and review the molecular pathways in which Tau has been implicated. Finally, we emphasize that the integration of genome-wide approaches in human or mice with high-throughput genetic validation in Drosophila is a fruitful approach.