The identification and suppression of inherited neurodegeneration in Caenorhabditis elegans

Martin Chalfie, E Wolinsky


The dominant mutation deg-1(u38) results in a toxic gene product that leads to the late-onset degeneration of a small number of neurons in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Both intragenic and extragenic mutations as well as changes in wild-type gene dosage can delay or block the time of onset of the neuronal deaths. The deg-1 gene has been cloned and a partial complementary DNA reveals that the gene encodes a novel protein that may act as a membrane receptor. Because the late-onset loss of specific sets of neurons, often as a result of dominant mutations, is characteristic of several human neurodegenerative diseases, the analysis of the deg-1 gene and its suppressors may provide a means of understanding the mechanisms underlying some of these human diseases.


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