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 One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>