Repository logo

Blocking dPerk in the intestine suppresses neurodegeneration in a Drosophila model of Parkinson’s disease

Published version



Change log


Martins, Luis 


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterised by selective death of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the midbrain and motor function impairment. Gastrointestinal issues often precede motor deficits in PD, indicating that the gut-brain axis is involved in the pathogenesis of this disease. The features of PD include both mitochondrial dysfunction and activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). PINK1 is a mitochondrial kinase involved in the recycling of defective mitochondria, and PINK1 mutations cause early-onset PD. Like PD patients, pink1 mutant Drosophila show degeneration of DA neurons and intestinal dysfunction. These mutant flies also lack vital proteins due to sustained activation of the kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (dPerk), a kinase that induces the UPR. Here, we investigated the role of dPerk in intestinal dysfunction. We showed that intestinal expression of dPerk impairs mitochondrial function, induces cell death, and decreases lifespan. We found that suppressing dPerk in the intestine of pink1-mutant flies rescues intestinal cell death and is neuroprotective. We conclude that in a fly model of PD, blocking gut-brain transmission of UPR-mediated toxicity, is neuroprotective.



Animals, Drosophila, Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila Proteins, Parkinson Disease, Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases, Unfolded Protein Response

Journal Title

Cell Death and Disease

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Nature Publishing Group
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00025/3)