The Role of NFκB Innate Immune Factors in Maintaining Drosophila Retinal Integrity

Mohamed Dabaja, Dr. Tiffany Cook, Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 540 E Canfield St, Detroit, MI 48201

Retinal degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinal pigmentosa affect the vision of millions of people each year, yet few diagnostic or therapeutic options are currently available.  Glia, the non-neuronal cells in the nervous system, are important for protecting and maintaining neuronal structure and function, but their roles in retinal function and maintenance are only starting to be understood. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a valuable genetic system for studying retinal degeneration during both aging and light-induced stress. Recent work from our laboratory has shown that an accessory cell in the Drosophila eye, called Semper cells, are enriched in glial regulators and effectors. One such factor, called Prospero, is a transcription factor associated with glial development and is critical in Semper cells to maintain photoreceptor function and prevent premature light-dependent degeneration. Preliminary molecular studies from our laboratory suggest that genes associated with the innate immune system are disrupted in Semper cells knocked down for Prospero, suggesting a neuroinflammatory regulatory network may contribute to Semper cell-dependent photoreceptor support. To test this hypothesis, we assessed whether NFκB factors, mediators of the innate immune system, are essential in Semper cell-dependent photoreceptor protection. Using a GAL4-UAS-RNAi approach, we knocked down all three Drosophila NFκB factors in Semper cells and measured neighboring photoreceptor neuronal activity using electroretinogram recordings. Our preliminary studies suggest that Drosophila retinal glia require different NFκB factors in Semper cells to sustain visual function under homeostatic vs degenerative light conditions. These studies suggest a complex interplay of innate immune factors in the fly retina, and provide a new system to understand the role of neuroinflammation in sustaining retinal integrity and function.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Mohamed Dabaja

Institution: Wayne State University

Type: Poster

Subject: Biology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 3
Date/Time: Mon 4:30pm-5:30pm
Session Number: 3107