Front Neurosci 2018 10;12:544. Epub 2018 Aug 10.
Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
Neurotrophic factors (NTFs) are important for the development, function, and survival of neurons in the mammalian system. Mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor (MANF) and cerebral dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF) are two recently identified members of a novel family of NTFs in vertebrates that function to protect dopaminergic neurons. Although these genes are conserved across eukaryotes, their mechanism of neuroprotection is not fully understood. Sequence searches for MANF/CDNF homologs in invertebrates have identified a single ortholog that is most related to MANF. Here we report the characterization of the MANF gene, , in the nematode . We found that mutants have an accelerated, age-dependent decline in the survival of dopaminergic neurons. The animals also show increased endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, as revealed by reporter gene expression analysis of , an ER chaperone BiP/GRP78 homolog, suggesting that a failure to regulate the ER unfolded protein response (ER-UPR) may be a contributing factor to dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Expression studies of revealed that the gene is broadly expressed in a pattern that matches closely with . Consistent with the requirements of in the ER-UPR, we found that aggregates of α-Synuclein, a major constituent of Lewy bodies, were significantly increased in body wall muscles of mutant animals. Overall, our work demonstrates the important role of in dopaminergic neuronal survival and the maintenance of ER homeostasis in .