The Drosophila carbonyl reductase sniffer prevents oxidative stress-induced neurodegeneration

Jose A. Botella, Julia K. Ulschmid, Christoph Gruenewald, Christoph Moehle, Doris Kretzschmar, Katja Becker, Stephan Schneuwly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


A growing body of evidence suggests that oxidative stress is a common underlying mechanism in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Creutzfeld-Jakob and Parkinson's diseases [1-4]. Despite the increasing number of reports finding a causal relation between oxidative stress and neurodegeneration, little is known about the genetic elements that confer protection against the deleterious effects of oxidation in neurons. We have isolated and characterized the Drosophila melanogaster gene sniffer, whose function is essential for preventing age-related neurodegeneration. In addition, we demonstrate that oxidative stress is a direct cause of neurodegeneration in the Drosophila central nervous system and that reduction of sniffer activity leads to neuronal cell death. The overexpression of the gene confers neuronal protection against oxygen-induced apoptosis, increases resistance of flies to experimental normobaric hyperoxia, and improves general locomotor fitness. Sniffer belongs to the family of short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) enzymes and exhibits carbonyl reductase activity. This is the first in vivo evidence of the direct and important implication of this enzyme as a neuroprotective agent in the cellular defense mechanisms against oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-786
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 4 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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