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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2013, Article ID 760629, 9 pages
Review Article

The Benefits of Humanized Yeast Models to Study Parkinson’s Disease

Functional Biology, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium

Received 8 May 2013; Accepted 18 June 2013

Academic Editor: Paula Ludovico

Copyright © 2013 V. Franssens et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over the past decade, the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has proven to be a useful model system to investigate fundamental questions concerning the pathogenic role of human proteins in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). These so-called humanized yeast models for PD initially focused on α-synuclein, which plays a key role in the etiology of PD. Upon expression of this human protein in the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the events leading to aggregation and the molecular mechanisms that result in cellular toxicity are faithfully reproduced. More recently, a similar model to study the presumed pathobiology of the α-synuclein interaction partner synphilin-1 has been established. In this review we will discuss recent advances using these humanized yeast models, pointing to new roles for cell wall integrity signaling, Ca2+ homeostasis, mitophagy, and the cytoskeleton.