Neurodegenerative diseases are responsible for agonizing symptoms that take their toll on the fragile human life. Aberrant protein processing and accumulation are considered to be the culprits of many classical neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, tauopathies, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, hereditary spastic paraplegia and various polyglutamine diseases. However, recently it has been shown that toxic RNA species or disruption of RNA processing and metabolism may be partly to blame as clearly illustrated in spinal muscular atrophy, spinocerebellar ataxia 8 and fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the fruit fly or Drosophila melanogaster has taken its place at the forefront of an uphill struggle to unveil the molecular and cellular pathophysiology of both protein- and RNA-induced neurodegeneration, as well as discovery of novel drug targets. We review here the various fly models of neurodegenerative conditions, and summarise the novel insights that the fly has contributed to the field of neuroprotection and neurodegeneration.
Copyright 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.