Navigation Links
CSHL scientists identify a mechanism that helps fruit flies lock-in memories
Date:3/28/2008

Synapses are the tiny gaps across which information crosses between nerve cells. Changes in the strength of synaptic connections, called plasticity, play a vital role in both memory formation and learning, and help determine how nerve signals propagate.

Assistant professor Josh Dubnau, Ph.D., leads a CSHL neuroscience lab that studies learning and memory in fruit flies, or Drosophila. His team had previously identified a group of fly genes needed for memory formation, including one called Pumilio. A similar gene is present in humans, so studying Pumilio in the fly brain could help researchers understand how memory works in the human brain.

A Fruitful Hypothesis

Prior work had shown that Pumilio acts with other genes to shape the developing fly embryo, by modifying how much of various proteins is made in different regions of a cell. Dr. Dubnau hypothesized that the gene acts similarly to affect memory formation.

To further explore this idea, Dr. Dubnau collaborated with CSHL Professors Michael Zhang, Ph.D., a computational biologist, and Adrian Krainer, Ph.D., an expert on gene expression. He posed a question to Dr. Zhang that called for sophisticated mathematical analysis: For 151 genes known to be active in synapses, which of the protein-precursors they produce were most likely to interact with Pum, the protein made by Pumilio? Back in the laboratory, Dr. Krainers team confirmed that Pum interacts with several of the protein-precursors identified by Dr. Zhangs team, including one arising from a gene called dlg1. A gene very similar to dlg1 acts in synapse formation in mammals.

Testing the Result in Living Flies

What about the fly? Dr. Dubnaus lab performed the final step. They genetically engineered flies that made especially large amounts of Pum protein in a brain region called the mushroom body where memory storage occurs. They then confirmed that, in such flies, the protein product of the dlg1 gene was dramatically reduced in this brain region. This observation supports the notion that Pumilio helps build memories by selectively altering individual synapses.

The current work is particularly satisfying, Dr. Dubnau noted, because the original hypothesis about Pumilio was extended by computations to make further predictions, which were then brought full circle and tested in vitro, in the lab and in vivo, in living flies. "It's the kind of interdisciplinary collaboration that Cold Spring Harbor is very good at," he observed.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jim Bono
pubaff@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UK scientists working to help cut ID theft
2. Scientists show that mitochondrial DNA variants are linked to risk factors for type 2 diabetes
3. Comet probes reveal evidence of origin of life, scientists claim
4. Scientists link fragile X tremor/ataxia syndrome to binding protein in RNA
5. Male elephants get photo IDs from scientists
6. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
7. Muscle mass: Scientists identify novel mode of transcriptional regulation during myogenesis
8. Carnegie Mellon scientists develop nanogels that enable controlled delivery of carbohydrate drugs
9. Clemson scientists shed light on molecules in living cells
10. Scientists tackle mystery mountain illness
11. T. rex quicker than Becks, say scientists
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/21/2016)... 2016 Unique technology combines ... superior security   Xura, Inc. ... secure digital communications services, today announced it is working ... enterprise customers, particularly those in the Financial Services Sector, ... authentication within a mobile app, alongside, and in combination ...
(Date:3/14/2016)... Florida , March 14, 2016 ... the growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing of a ... channels starting the week of March 21 st .  The ... CNBC, including its popular Squawk on the Street show. ... focused on the growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing ...
(Date:3/10/2016)... , March 10, 2016   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: ... Border Protection (CBP) is testing its biometric identity solution ... Diego to help identify certain non-U.S. citizens leaving ... The test, designed to help determine the efficiency and accuracy ... in February and will run until May 2016. --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... Next week on May 5 ... first-in-class technologies for tissue stem cell counting and expansion to gene-editing scientists and ... & CRISPR-based Genome Engineering in Burlington, Massachusetts. , The attention of most gene-editing ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... The Pittcon Organizing ... 2019. Chuck has been a volunteer member of Committee since 1987. Since then, ... board of directors and treasurer and was chairman for both the program and exposition ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... Jon Clark has joined the company as an Expert Consultant. Mr. Clark ... industry collaborations and managing the development of small molecule monographs based on analytical ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , April 27, 2016 MedDay, ... disorders, today announces the appointment of Catherine Moukheibir as Chairman ... MedDay,s previous Chairman, Jean Jacques Garaud , who contributed ... change is effective immediately. Catherine started her career ... and London .  She held ...
Breaking Biology Technology: