Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Heidelberg Researchers Identify “Switch” for Long-term Memory

09.07.2013
Heidelberg Researchers Identify “Switch” for Long-term Memory
Calcium signal in neuronal cell nuclei initiates the formation of lasting memories

Neurobiologists at Heidelberg University have identified calcium in the cell nucleus to be a cellular “switch” responsible for the formation of long-term memory. Using the fruit fly “Drosophila melanogaster” as a model, the team led by Prof. Dr. Christoph Schuster and Prof. Dr. Hilmar Bading investigates how the brain learns.


Brain of the “Drosophila melanogaster” fruit fly with its association and learning centres, called mushroom bodies, marked in green. A subgroup of the marked neurons carries out a switching function that creates long-term memory in the flies by controlling the production of "memory proteins" using a nuclear calcium signal.
Jan-Marek Weislogel, IZN, Heidelberg University, and Shamprasad Varija Raghu, Neuroscience Research Partnership, Singapore. With permission of Science Signaling/AAAS.

The researchers wanted to know which signals in the brain were responsible for building long-term memory and for forming the special proteins involved. The results of the research were published in the journal “Science Signaling”.

The team from the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences (IZN) measured nuclear calcium levels with a fluorescent protein in the association and learning centres of the insect’s brain to investigate any changes that might occur during the learning process. Their work on the fruit fly revealed brief surges in calcium levels in the cell nuclei of certain neurons during learning. It was this calcium signal that researchers identified as the trigger of a genetic programme that controls the production of “memory proteins”. If this nuclear calcium switch is blocked, the flies are unable to form long-term memory.

Prof. Schuster explains that insects and mammals separated evolutionary paths approximately 600 million years ago. In spite of this sizable gap, certain vitally important processes such as memory formation use similar cellular mechanisms in humans, mice and flies, as the researchers’ experiments were able to prove. “These commonalities indicate that the formation of long-term memory is an ancient phenomenon already present in the shared ancestors of insects and vertebrates. Both species probably use similar cellular mechanisms for forming long-term memory, including the nuclear calcium switch”, Schuster continues.

The IZN researchers assume that similar switches based on nuclear calcium signals may have applications in other areas – presumably whenever organisms need to adapt to new conditions over the long term. “Pain memory, for example, or certain protective and survival functions of neurons use this nuclear calcium switch, too”, says Prof. Bading. This cellular switch may no longer work as well in the elderly, which Bading believes may explain the decline in memory typically observed in old age. Thus, the discoveries by the Heidelberg neurobiologists open up new perspectives for the treatment of age- and illness-related changes in brain functions.

Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences:
http://www.izn.uni-heidelberg.de
Prof. Bading’s research group:
http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/izn/researchgroups/bading
Prof. Schuster’s research group:
http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/izn/researchgroups/schuster
Original publication:
Weislogel, J. M., Bengtson, C. P., Müller, M. K., Hörtzsch, J. N., Bujard, M., Schuster, C. M., and Bading, H.: Requirement for Nuclear Calcium Signaling in Drosophila Long-Term Memory. Science Signaling 6 (274), ra33, 07 May 2013, doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2003598
Contact:
Prof. Dr. Hilmar Bading / Prof. Dr. Christoph Schuster
Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences
Phone: +49 06221 54-8218 / +49 6221 54-8300
hilmar.bading@uni-hd.de / schuster@nbio.uni-heidelberg.de
Communications and Marketing
Press Office, phone: +49 6221 54-2311
presse@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de

Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-heidelberg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>