Chris Elliott

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Dr. Chris Elliott


Areas of expertise

  • Insect nervous systems
  • Drosophila neurobiology
  • Role of octopamine

PhD opportunities

The most common genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a mutation in the LRRK2 gene, G2019S. We have developed a new fly model, which exploits the homology of between fly and human. The proboscis extension response (PER) shows a marked decline in performance with G2019S expression, but not with other mutations in LRRK2. This loss of function is most marked when G2019S is expressed in the dopaminergic neurons. It can be rescued by drug application. We will use the extensive fly genetic toolbox to test the function of G2019S as a dominant negative kinase mutation, and to screen candidate genes which slow degeneration. We will support this by using drug application (L-DOPA, kinase inhibitors, glycolytic upregulation). This will provide a new view of LRRK2 neurophysiology in the whole organism, in a way that has not been possible in mouse models.

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