FUS causes synaptic hyperexcitability in Drosophila dendritic arborization neurons

James B. Machamer, Brian M. Woolums, Gregory G. Fuller, Thomas E. Lloyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mutations in the nuclear localization signal of the RNA binding protein FUS cause both Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). These mutations result in a loss of FUS from the nucleus and the formation of FUS-containing cytoplasmic aggregates in patients. To better understand the role of cytoplasmic FUS mislocalization in the pathogenesis of ALS, we identified a population of cholinergic neurons in Drosophila that recapitulate these pathologic hallmarks. Expression of mutant FUS or the Drosophila homolog, Cabeza (Caz), in class IV dendritic arborization neurons results in cytoplasmic mislocalization and axonal transport to presynaptic terminals. Interestingly, overexpression of FUS or Caz causes the progressive loss of neuronal projections, reduction of synaptic mitochondria, and the appearance of large calcium transients within the synapse. Additionally, we find that overexpression of mutant but not wild type FUS results in a reduction in presynaptic Synaptotagmin, an integral component of the neurotransmitter release machinery, and mutant Caz specifically disrupts axonal transport and induces hyperexcitability. These results suggest that FUS/Caz overexpression disrupts neuronal function through multiple mechanisms, and that ALS-causing mutations impair the transport of synaptic vesicle proteins and induce hyperexcitability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Aug 15 2018


  • ALS
  • Drosophila
  • FUS
  • Neuron
  • Nuclear transport
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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