You can see three tubes in the following video, each of which contains 10 flies – all alive. On the left (“controls”) , all flies comfortably climb upwards after being tapped down. These are unaffected flies. The ten flies in the middle (“COX def.”) , however, are too weak to climb, due to the lack a key protein in their nerve cells. The flies on the right (“COX def. + AOX”) also have the same deficiency, but they also have an additional protein called alternative oxidase (AOX) in the same cells, and now they can climb again (This experiment was previously published in the Scientific Reports journal).
Here is a quantification of the repeat experiment, also showing a dose-dependent effect. The y-axis, “Climbing index”, shows how well flies can climb. The controls can climb very comfortably, and AOX expression alone does not affect this. However flies with pan-neuronal cytochrome c oxidase (COX) deficiency are unable to climb without AOX. High levels of AOX expression in nerve cells dramatically rescues this phenotype. Lower levels of AOX in the same cells gives a milder (but statistically significant) rescue. Finally, inactive AOX (inactived by mutations in its active center) does not help at all.
Using neuronal COX deficiency in Drosophila melanogaster as a disease model, I am studying how COX deficiency in neurons leads to locomotion problems. My focus is the type of neurons affected, and the pathological mechanisms by which they are affected. I also explore how AOX alleviates these phenotypes and processes.
Each of us gave a 15-minute talk on why the hell scientists use fruit fly in their research and what results they got. Essi’s talk was in Finnish, followed by Martin’s and mine in English. Mine was about how neuroscientists made use of the fly.
When I was a student in Kuopio, I was a member of the Aivopesula committee, made of volunteers arranging monthly neuroscience meetings. The main idea was not to just listen to a talk, but also to meet and discuss with other interested people in the university, the academic hospital and so on. At first coffee and cookies were served, followed by a not-so-long talk. The function of the meeting would be completed during the buffet with free snacks and beer.
It was great pleasure to do the shopping, prepare the snacks, chop the salads and prepare the buffet once a month with friends. And next week, I will have the privilege of giving the talk.
As far as I know, there is no Drosophila researcher in Kuopio, and I will try to convince the audience that Drosophila melanogaster is useful for neuroscience research, with some historical examples and some from our recent paper (Yalgin et al., 2015).