Dendrite pathology is frequently observed in various neurodegenerative diseases (NDs). Although previous studies identified several pathogenic mediators of dendrite defects that act through loss of function in NDs, the underlying pathogenic mechanisms remain largely unexplored. Here, our search for additional pathogenic contributors to dendrite defects in NDs identifies Relish/NF-κB as a novel gain-of-toxicity–based mediator of dendrite defects in animal models for polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In a Drosophila model for polyQ diseases, polyQ-induced dendrite defects require Dredd/Caspase-8–mediated endoproteolytic cleavage of Relish to generate the N-terminal fragment, Rel68, and subsequent Charon-mediated nuclear localization of Rel68. Rel68 alone induced neuronal toxicity causing dendrite and behavioral defects, and we identify two novel transcriptional targets, Tup and Pros, that mediate Rel68-induced neuronal toxicity. Finally, we show that Rel68-induced toxicity also contributes to dendrite and behavioral defects in a Drosophila model for ALS. Collectively, our data propose disinhibition of latent toxicity of Relish/NF-κB as a novel pathogenic mechanism underlying dendrite pathology in NDs.

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