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:6/9/2016)... June 9, 2016 Paris ... Teleste,s video security solution to ensure the safety of people ... during the major tournament Teleste, an international ... and services, announced today that its video security solution will ... to back up public safety across the country. The system ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... 2016   The Weather Company , an IBM Business ... industry-first capability in which consumers will be able to interact ... questions via voice or text and receive relevant information about ... Marketers have long sought an advertising solution that can ... personal, relevant and valuable; and can scale across millions of ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... May 20, 2016  VoiceIt is excited to ... VoicePass. By working together, VoiceIt and ... VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly different approaches to ... both security and usability. ... this new partnership. "This marketing and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today announced that ... joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am thrilled that ... of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, Hays brings ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today ... trials of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The ... ascending dose studies designed to assess the safety, ... injection in healthy adult volunteers. Forty ... a single dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 Published ... the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D ... cost of cancer care is placing an increasing ... of expensive biologic therapies. With the patents on ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase its product’s latest features from ... also be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud ...
Breaking Biology Technology: