Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder with no known cure. PD is characterized by locomotion deficits, nigrostriatal dopaminergic neuronal loss, mitochondrial dysfunctions and formation of α-Synuclein aggregates. A well-conserved and less understood family of Tubulin Polymerization Promoting Proteins (TPPP) is also implicated in PD and related disorders, where TPPP exists in pathological aggregates in neurons in patient brains. However, there are no in vivo studies on mammalian TPPP to understand the genetics and neuropathology linking TPPP aggregation or neurotoxicity to PD. Recently, we discovered the only Drosophila homolog of human TPPP named Ringmaker (Ringer). Here, we report that adult ringer mutants display progressive locomotor disabilities, reduced lifespan and neurodegeneration. Importantly, our findings reveal that Ringer is associated with mitochondria and ringer mutants have mitochondrial structural damage and dysfunctions. Adult ringer mutants also display progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons. Together, these phenotypes of ringer mutants recapitulate some of the salient features of human PD patients, thus allowing us to utilize ringer mutants as a fly model relevant to PD, and further explore its genetic and molecular underpinnings to gain insights into the role of human TPPP in PD.
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