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Toxins 2010, 2(11), 2663-2679; doi:10.3390/toxins2112663

β-N-Methylamino-L-Alanine Induces Neurological Deficits and Shortened Life Span in Drosophila

1 Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida 33136, USA 2 University of Miami Bridges to the Future Program, Miami Dade Honors College, Miami, Florida 33132, USA 3 Department of Neurology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida 33136, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 September 2010 / Revised: 28 October 2010 / Accepted: 1 November 2010 / Published: 3 November 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurotoxins of Biological Origin)
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The neurotoxic non-protein amino acid, β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), was first associated with the high incidence of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Parkinsonism Dementia Complex (ALS/PDC) in Guam. Recently, BMAA has been implicated as a fierce environmental factor that contributes to the etiology of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, in addition to ALS. However, the toxicity of BMAA in vivo has not been clearly demonstrated. Here we report our investigation of the neurotoxicity of BMAA in Drosophila. We found that dietary intake of BMAA reduced life span, locomotor functions, and learning and memory abilities in flies. The severity of the alterations in phenotype is correlated with the concentration of BMAA detected in flies. Interestingly, developmental exposure to BMAA had limited impact on survival rate, but reduced fertility in females, and caused delayed neurological impairment in aged adults. Our studies indicate that BMAA exposure causes chronic neurotoxicity, and that Drosophila serves as a useful model in dissecting the pathogenesis of ALS/PDC.
Keywords: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; dementia; neurodegeneration Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; dementia; neurodegeneration
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Zhou, X.; Escala, W.; Papapetropoulos, S.; Zhai, R.G. β-N-Methylamino-L-Alanine Induces Neurological Deficits and Shortened Life Span in Drosophila. Toxins 2010, 2, 2663-2679.

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