Projects per year
Oxidative stress is linked to many pathological conditions including the loss of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease. The vast majority of disease cases appear to be caused by a combination of genetic mutations and environmental factors. We screened for genes protecting Caenorhabditis elegans dopaminergic neurons from oxidative stress induced by the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) and identified the transthyretin-related gene ttr-33. The only described C. elegans transthyretin-related protein to date, TTR-52, has been shown to mediate corpse engulfment as well as axon repair. We demonstrate that TTR-52 and TTR-33 have distinct roles. TTR-33 is likely produced in the posterior arcade cells in the head of C. elegans larvae and is predicted to be a secreted protein. TTR-33 protects C. elegans from oxidative stress induced by paraquat or H2O2 at an organismal level. The increased oxidative stress sensitivity of ttr-33 mutants is alleviated by mutations affecting the KGB-1 MAPK kinase pathway, whereas it is enhanced by mutation of the JNK-1 MAPK kinase. Finally, we provide genetic evidence that the C. elegans cell corpse engulfment pathway is required for the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons after exposure to 6-OHDA. In summary, we describe a new neuroprotective mechanism and demonstrate that TTR-33 normally functions to protect dopaminergic neurons from oxidative stress-induced degeneration, potentially by acting as a secreted sensor or scavenger of oxidative stress.