Drosophila in the Heart of Understanding Cardiac Diseases: Modeling Channelopathies and Cardiomyopathies in the Fruitfly

J Cardiovasc Dev Dis. 2016 Feb 18;3(1):7. doi: 10.3390/jcdd3010007.


Cardiovascular diseases and, among them, channelopathies and cardiomyopathies are a major cause of death worldwide. The molecular and genetic defects underlying these cardiac disorders are complex, leading to a large range of structural and functional heart phenotypes. Identification of molecular and functional mechanisms disrupted by mutations causing channelopathies and cardiomyopathies is essential to understanding the link between an altered gene and clinical phenotype. The development of animal models has been proven to be efficient for functional studies in channelopathies and cardiomyopathies. In particular, the Drosophila model has been largely applied for deciphering the molecular and cellular pathways affected in these inherited cardiac disorders and for identifying their genetic modifiers. Here we review the utility and the main contributions of the fruitfly models for the better understanding of channelopathies and cardiomyopathies. We also discuss the investigated pathological mechanisms and the discoveries of evolutionarily conserved pathways which reinforce the value of Drosophila in modeling human cardiac diseases.

Keywords: Drosophila; K+ channels; cardiomyopathies; channelopathies; cytoskeletal proteins; human cardiac disease; sarcomeric proteins.

Publication types

  • Review