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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common adult onset motor neurodegenerative disease. The cause of the disease remains obscure, and as such there is no effective treatment or cure. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases are frequently characterized by dysfunction of the RNA-binding protein, TDP-43. Using model systems to understand the mechanisms underlying TDP-43 dysfunction should accelerate identification of therapeutic targets. A recent report has shown that motor defects caused by the deletion of the Drosophila TDP-43 ortholog, tbph, are not driven by changes in the physiology at the neuromuscular junction. Rather, defective motor burst rhythmicity and coordination, displayed by tbph mutants, are rescued by genetically restoring a voltage-gated calcium channel to either motor neurons or just a single pair of neurons in the brain. If these effects are mirrored in human TDP-43 proteinopathies, these observations could open new avenues to investigate alternative therapeutic targets for these neurodegenerative diseases.


Originally published in the Journal of Experimental Neuroscience, Volume 11, (2017),

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