Navigation Links
OU study on genetics in fruit flies leads to new method for understanding brain function
Date:9/10/2010

A team of University of Oklahoma researchers studying neurobiology in fruit flies (Drosophila) has developed a new method for understanding brain function with potential applications in studies of human neurological diseases.

The work is carried out in the laboratory of Bing Zhang, a professor in the OU Department of Zoology, using fruit flies as a model for understanding what happens in the human brain because they share thousands of the same genes with a human.

Zhang and his students use a 'reverse engineering' approach to understand how the brain works. "If we know how cells behave in fruit flies, we may better understand how they work in humans," says Zhang. "A key experimental step to achieving this goal is to manipulate brain cells and observe their effects on animal behavior. This is usually done by targeting one or two cells at a time or a small group of cells."

How to target brain cells depends largely on advances in genetic techniques or tools. In the past 20 years, Drosophila researchers have developed sophisticated tools for cell and gene manipulation. However, one current and widely used method, called the GAL4/UAS system, is limited in its applicability to target small subsets of cells.

The method developed by Zhang's group takes advantage of two additional genetic tools that when used in combination with the GAL4/UAS system, greatly expands its utility. The new method represents a significant advance, enabling researchers to now more precisely manipulate a small subset of brain cells.

Zhang stressed that Rudolf Bohm, a talented postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory, was instrumental in developing the initial ideas for this method. Furthermore, a group of highly driven and capable undergraduate students made significant contributions to the project, including Will Welch, Lindsey Goodnight, Logan Cox, Leah Henry and Tyler Gunter.

According to Zhang, "There is no limit to the types of studies that can be done using fruit flies." For example, fly neurobiologists can learn a lot about the brain in stroke patients by studying similar cell behavior in fruit flies. The same method can be applied with studies of human diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Zhang and his colleagues even study drug and alcohol addiction in fruit flies to understand human substance addiction and abuse.

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to Zhang for advances in neurobiology research that will benefit the research community-at-large, for outreach activities in the community and local schools, and for diverse educational opportunities that involve numerous undergraduate students.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jana Smith
jana.smith@ou.edu
405-325-1322
University of Oklahoma
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. BU partners in 5-year, $7.5M grant to study animal flight
2. U of I receives $1 million USDA grant to study Glossy15 in sorghum
3. Terumo Medical Corp. reports first US implant in landmark study enrolling in US and Japan
4. Study may help predict extinction tipping point for species
5. Why the biological clock? Penn study says aging reduces centromere cohesion, disrupts reproduction
6. Study: 3 out of 4 cats will wear a collar, making it worth a try
7. Iowa State study finds corn bred to contain beta-carotene is a good source of vitamin A
8. Use of informatics, EMRs enable genetic study of vascular disease
9. Brain cells determine obesity -- not lack of willpower: Study
10. Energy drinks may give young sports teams an edge, study says
11. NIH to launch Gulf oil spill health study
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/14/2016)... March 14, 2016 NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ... commerce market, announces the airing of a new series of ... week of March 21 st .  The commercials will air ... popular Squawk on the Street show. --> NXTD ... growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing of a new ...
(Date:3/10/2016)... Pa. , March 10, 2016   Unisys Corporation ... Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is testing its biometric ... San Diego to help identify certain non-U.S. ... . The test, designed to help determine the efficiency ... environment, began in February and will run until May 2016. ...
(Date:3/3/2016)... MONTEREY, Calif. , March 3, 2016  FlexTech, ... in the categories of Innovation, Research & Development, Leadership ... Industry Leadership. This is the 9 th year ... select group of companies and individuals from past ... nominations based on a pre-described set of criteria, by ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... British Columbia , April 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... oder "NanoStruck") (CSE: NSK) (OTCPink: NSKQB) ( ... im Anschluss an ihre Pressemitteilung vom 13. August ... erhalten hat, ihre Finanzen um zusätzliche 200.000.000 Einheiten ... 4.000.000 Kanadische Dollar zu bringen. Davon wurden 157.900.000 ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... Lamka, PhD to its Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Lamka will assist PathSensors in ... pathogen detection. , PathSensors deploys the CANARY® test platform for the detection ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , April 27, 2016 MedDay, a ... today announces the appointment of Catherine Moukheibir as Chairman of ... previous Chairman, Jean Jacques Garaud , who contributed to ... is effective immediately. Catherine started her career in ... and London .  She held C-Suite ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... ... ... The European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that U.S. Biophysicist ... Inventor Award 2016 in the category "Non-European countries." The winners of the 11th edition ... on June 9th. , The human capacity to walk with fluidity is the sum ...
Breaking Biology Technology: