Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pavlov’s flies: Researchers identify fruit fly memory mutants

18.02.2003


Broad implications seen for treating Alzheimer’s and other human diseases

By teaching fruit flies to avoid an odor and isolating mutant flies that can’t remember their lessons, researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York have identified dozens of genes required for long-term memory.

In the same study, using DNA chip technology, the scientists identified another large group of candidate memory genes that are either switched on or off in the fly brain during memory formation.



The study is significant in part because many of the fruit fly genes it uncovered have counterparts in humans. Because these genes might be involved in human learning and memory, they may be important for understanding human memory deficit disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, the genes are potential targets for the development of therapies to treat such disorders. The study (available on request) appears in the February 18 issue of Current Biology (illustrations also available on request).

Interestingly, an overlapping set of seven candidate memory genes appeared in both the behavioral screen and the DNA chip analysis. Additional experiments confirmed that when genes identified by the DNA chip approach are mutated or switched off in flies, the resulting flies fail to form long-term memories.

The study, by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory neuroscientists Tim Tully and Josh Dubnau, reveals new roles for nearly 100 genes in memory, as well as a role in memory for a specific subset of genes that is believed to act to restrict protein production to particular regions within brain neurons.

The behavioral screen for memory mutants uncovered 60 genes, and the DNA chip analysis yielded 42 genes. Considering the seven genes that appeared in both groups, the study identified a total of some 92 unique genes likely to function in learning and memory at some level.

"The brain of the fly works very much like the brain of other animals, including humans. Flies are capable of learning just like Pavlov’s Dogs," says Tully. "In fact, because our fruit fly memory mutants were found using a behavioral approach very similar to Pavlov’s, our flies have come to be known as Pavlov’s Flies."

After ringing the dinner bell and presenting his dogs with food several times over many days, the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) found that eventually, his dogs would display dinnertime behavior (drooling, excitement) on just the sound of the bell.

In a fascinating and entertaining essay (available on request) that accompanies the published study, Tully describes how in 1992 he traveled to the Pavlov Institute in Koltushi, Russia to find the names of Pavlov’s Dogs with the intention of naming his fruit fly memory mutants after the dogs. This despite the fact that at that time, he had few such fly mutants, and had been able to find the name of but one of Pavlov’s Dogs, Bierka.

After several dead ends, and on the final day of his visit, Tully was invited for a private tour of Pavlov’s home. There he struck gold when the curator showed him a photo album inside which were photographs of forty of Pavlov’s Dogs, along with their Russian names (e.g. Rosa, Mirta, Norka, Trezor, Visgun, Jurka, Jack, John. Photographs and complete list of names available on request).

Previous studies by Tully and Jerry Yin have shown that boosting the expression level in the fly brain of a gene called CREB provides flies a form of photographic memory. Preliminary research now indicates that drugs which boost the expression level of the mouse CREB gene can improve memory in mice. Human memory, particularly in patient’s with Alzheimer’s disease, may well be improved by the same kind of drug

Peter Sherwood | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cshl.org/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown 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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>