Modeling familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy (Transthyretin V30M) in Drosophila melanogaster

Neurodegener Dis. 2009;6(3):127-38. doi: 10.1159/000213761. Epub 2009 Apr 17.


Background/aims: Transthyretin (TTR) is a prevalent plasma and cerebrospinal fluid protein associated with sporadic and heritable amyloidosis. TTR amyloidosis is linked to a vast number of mutations with varying phenotype, tissue distribution and age of onset. The most prevalent mutation associated with familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy (FAP) is the V30M mutation. Studies of transgenic mouse models of TTR V30M FAP have been hampered by variable phenotype, low disease penetrance, and slow onset.

Methods/results: To model TTR-associated amyloid disease in the Drosophila model system, transgenic Drosophila were generated, expressing wild-type (wt) TTR or TTR V30M, associated with sporadic senile systemic amyloidosis (SSA) and inherited FAP, respectively. We found that expression of FAP-associated TTR V30M mutant in the nervous system resulted in reduced lifespan and in reduced climbing ability indicating neurological impairment, whereas expression of TTR wt showed a milder phenotype. Congo red staining of the Drosophila brain shows positive amyloid binding in the aged TTR V30M flies. Extensive brain vacuole formation was evident for the aged TTR V30M flies, whereas a milder phenotype was shown by the TTR wt flies. In addition, expression of TTR V30M in the eye leads to tissue damage, including rough eye, morphological changes and fibrous deposition.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that Drosophila is a promising complementary system for studies of TTR-associated amyloid diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / genetics*
  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / pathology*
  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Drosophila melanogaster*
  • Eye / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Prealbumin / genetics*


  • Prealbumin