Phosphatidylserine synthase plays an essential role in glia and affects development, as well as the maintenance of neuronal function

iScience. 2021 Jul 24;24(8):102899. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102899. eCollection 2021 Aug 20.


Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an integral component of eukaryotic cell membranes and organelles. The Drosophila genome contains a single PS synthase (PSS)-encoding gene (Pss) homologous to mammalian PSSs. Flies with Pss loss-of-function alleles show a reduced life span, increased bang sensitivity, locomotor defects, and vacuolated brain, which are the signs associated with neurodegeneration. We observed defective mitochondria in mutant adult brain, as well as elevated production of reactive oxygen species, and an increase in autophagy and apoptotic cell death. Intriguingly, glial-specific knockdown or overexpression of Pss alters synaptogenesis and axonal growth in the larval stage, causes developmental arrest in pupal stages, and neurodegeneration in adults. This is not observed with pan-neuronal up- or down-regulation. These findings suggest that precisely regulated expression of Pss in glia is essential for the development and maintenance of brain function. We propose a mechanism that underlies these neurodegenerative phenotypes triggered by defective PS metabolism.

Keywords: Cell biology; Developmental biology; Developmental neuroscience.