Maintaining the brain: insight into human neurodegeneration from Drosophila melanogaster mutants

Nat Rev Genet. 2009 Jun;10(6):359-70. doi: 10.1038/nrg2563.


The fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster has enabled significant advances in neurodegenerative disease research, notably in the identification of genes that are required to maintain the structural integrity of the brain, defined by recessive mutations that cause adult onset neurodegeneration. Here, we survey these genes in the fly and classify them according to five key cell biological processes. Over half of these genes have counterparts in mice or humans that are also associated with neurodegeneration. Fly genetics continues to be instrumental in the analysis of degenerative disease, with notable recent advances in our understanding of several inherited disorders, Parkinson's disease, and the central role of mitochondria in neuronal maintenance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy


  • Drosophila Proteins