We are using Drosophila to study basic mechanisms of neurodegeneration. Currently, we are focusing on two projects. One is the characterization of the swiss cheese mutant, which shows progressive degeneration of the adult nervous system. SWS is the fly homolog of a ´human gene called Neuropathy Target Esterase which plays a role in neurodegeneration induced by pesticides and nerve agents. Recent results indicated that SWS/NTE interfere with membrane composition thereby damaging neurons. We are now studying in detail how this leads to neuronal degeneration and cell death. The other project focuses on the function of Amyloid Precursor Proteins, which are key factors in Alzheimer's Disease. We are investigating how these proteins are processed , what function different fragments derived from this large precursor protein have, and what other genes influence these processes. In addition, we have developed a system to study the transport of this protein and its fragments in the living brain using confocal imaging.
- Ph.D., Univeristy of Wüerzburg, Wüerzburg Germany 1999