A new genetic model for calcium induced autophagy and ER-stress in Drosophila photoreceptor cells

Cytoplasmic Ca2+ overload is known to trigger autophagy and ER-stress. Furthermore, ER-stress and autophagy are commonly associated with degenerative pathologies, but their role in disease progression is still a matter of debate, in part, owing to limitations of existing animal model systems. The Drosophila eye is a widely used model system for studying neurodegenerative pathologies. Recently, we characterized the Drosophila protein, Calphotin, as a cytosolic immobile Ca2+ buffer, which participates in Ca2+ homeostasis in Drosophila photoreceptor cells. Exposure of calphotin hypomorph flies to continuous illumination, which induces Ca2+ influx into photoreceptor cells, resulted in severe Ca2+-dependent degeneration. Here we show that this degeneration is autophagy and ER-stress related. Our studies thus provide a new model in which genetic manipulations trigger changes in cellular Ca2+ distribution. This model constitutes a framework for further investigations into the link between cytosolic Ca2+, ER-stress and autophagy in human disorders and diseases.

Authors
Weiss, S. and Minke B.
Year of publication
2015
Journal
Channels, Volume 9, Issue 1, pages 14-20