The Drosophila melanogaster (Dmel) eye is an ideal model to study development, intracellular signaling, behavior, and neurodegenerative disease. Interestingly, dynamic data is not commonly employed to investigate eye-specific disease models. Using axonal transport of the morphogen Hedgehog (Hh), which is integral to Dmel eye-brain development and implicated in stem cell maintenance and neoplastic disease, we demonstrate the ability to comprehensively quantify and characterize its trafficking in various neuron types and a neurodegeneration model in live early 3rd instar larval Drosophila. We find that neuronal Hh, whose kinetics have not been reported previously, favors fast anterograde transport and varies in speed and flux with respect to axonal position. This suggests distinct trafficking pathways along the axon. Lastly, we report abnormal transport of Hh in an accepted model of photoreceptor neurodegeneration. As a technical complement to existing eye-specific disease models, we demonstrate the ability to directly visualize transport in real time in intact and live animals and track secreted cargoes from the axon to their release points. Particle dynamics can now be precisely calculated and we posit that this method could be conveniently applied to characterizing disease pathogenesis and genetic screening in other established models of neurodegeneration.
- Received January 10, 2017.
- Accepted March 13, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.