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A miRNA screen procedure identifies garz as an essential factor in adult glia functions and validates Drosophila as a beneficial 3Rs model to study glial functions and GBF1 biology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number317
Published1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


Invertebrate glia performs most of the key functions controlled by mammalian glia in the nervous system and provides an ideal model for genetic studies of glial functions. To study the influence of adult glial cells in ageing we have performed a genetic screen in Drosophila using a collection of transgenic lines providing conditional expression of micro-RNAs (miRNAs). Here, we describe a methodological algorithm to identify and rank genes that are candidate to be targeted by miRNAs that shorten lifespan when expressed in adult glia. We have used four different databases for miRNA target prediction in Drosophila but find little agreement between them, overall. However, top candidate gene analysis shows potential to identify essential genes involved in adult glial functions. One example from our top candidates' analysis is gartenzwerg ( garz). We establish that garz is necessary in many glial cell types, that it affects motor behaviour and, at the sub-cellular level, is responsible for defects in cellular membranes, autophagy and mitochondria quality control. We also verify the remarkable conservation of functions between garz and its mammalian orthologue, GBF1, validating the use of Drosophila as an alternative 3Rs-beneficial model to knock-out mice for studying the biology of GBF1, potentially involved in human neurodegenerative diseases.

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