Autophagy is a conserved catabolic pathway that involves the engulfment of cytoplasmic components such as large protein aggregates and organelles that are delivered to the lysosome for degradation. This process is important in maintaining neuronal function and raises the possibility of a role for autophagy in neurodegenerative diseases. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of these diseases and is characterized by the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain which arise due to the misfolding and aggregation of toxic peptides, including amyloid beta (Aβ). There is substantial evidence from both AD patients and animal models that autophagy is dysregulated in this disease. However, it remains to be determined whether this is protective or pathogenic as there is evidence that autophagy can act to promote the degradation as well as function in the generation of toxic Aβ peptides. Understanding the molecular details of the extensive crosstalk that occurs between the autophagic and endolysosomal cellular pathways is essential for identifying the molecular details of amyloid toxicity. Drosophila models that express the toxic proteins that aggregate in AD have been generated and have been shown to recapitulate hallmarks of the disease. Here we focus on what is known about the role of autophagy in amyloid toxicity in AD from mammalian models and how Drosophila models can be used to further investigate AD pathogenesis.
- Journal Article