Neuronal Role of Lipid Flippases

Project: Research project

Grant Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The efficient and stable transfer of information among neurons occurs at specialized cell-cell contact sites, called synapses. Even subtle changes in synaptic strength can disturb neuronal circuits and cause psychiatric, neurological, or neurodegenerative disorders. Effective synaptic transmission requires fast neurotransmitter secretion by Ca2+ triggered synaptic vesicle (SV) fusion and subsequently effective SV endocytosis. It has been theorized that "cone-shaped" lipids may aid the extreme membrane curvatures during SV fusion and fission. We hypothesize that at least some P4-ATPases may aid membrane curvatures during SV fusion and/or fission by locally translocating (flipping) specific lipids from the outer to the inner leaflet of the membrane. Our preliminary results suggest that this may be indeed the case. Taking advantage of the genetic model system Drosophila, we have identified mutations in the Drosophila ortholog (dATP8B) of the 4 paralogous human ATP8B1-4 flippases. Deletion of dATP8B impairs viability, locomotion and SV exo- and endocytosis, suggesting a critical for synaptic function. In addition, we obtained genetic evidence that ties dATP8B to the E3 ubiquitin ligase UBE3A, whose dysfunction causes Angelman Syndrome, an inherited neurological disorder leading to mental retardation. To gain critical data and tools for obtaining large-scale federal funding to test the synaptic role of dATP8B, we suggest in Aim 1 to generate antibodies and tagged transgenes to resolve the tissue-specific expression pattern and synaptic localization of dATP8B and its putative co-factor dCdc50. Aim 2 will establish in vivo and in situ "lipid flippase assays" to determine whether dATP8B mediates lipid flipping in cultured neurons and at synaptic terminals. Confirming flippase activity and a synaptic localization of dATP8B will provide a critical foundation to later test how lipid flipping promotes SV fusion or fission. Aim 3 will determine whether dCdc50 and the P4-ATPases dATP8A, dATP9, dATP10, and dATP11 are required for neuronal and/or synaptic function. This "survey" is justified since it is not known whether these P4-ATPases are required for neuronal function despite the association of some with Alzheimer's disease, Autism or Angelman syndrome. Together, these aims will provide critical preliminary data and tools like antibodies and transgenic animals to successfully obtain large-scale federal funding to rigorously test the significance and role of lipid flippases for neuronal and synaptic function. The proposed analysis of new components governing synaptic function will not only advance our basic knowledge but may also yield critical insights into the pathologies of homologous proteins in human brain disorders, like Autism and Angelman Syndrome. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Transmitting information from one nerve cell to another is critical for brain function. Successful completion of the project is expected to significantly advance our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying nerve cell communication and provide insights into how failure of these mechanisms causes mental retardation. Results from this work are likely functionally relevant for understanding Angelman Syndrome (AS), an inherited neurological disorder that is characterized by mental retardation, minimal speech, difficulties in motor coordination, and other deficiencies.
Effective start/end date12/3/0911/30/11


  • National Institutes of Health: $75,604.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $75,750.00


  • Medicine(all)


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