Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study of Bees Links Gene Regulatory Networks in the Brain to Behavior

27.09.2011
A new study reveals that distinct networks of genes in the honey bee brain contribute to specific behaviors, such as foraging or aggression, researchers report.

The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to show that common, naturally occurring behaviors are under the influence of discrete regulatory networks in the brain. It confirms, scientists say, what years of research into the brain and behavior seemed to indicate: There is a close relationship between changes in gene expression – which genes are actively transcribed into other molecules to perform specific tasks in the cell – and behavior.

“We found that there is a high degree of modularity in the regulation of genes and behavior, with distinct behavioral states represented by distinct gene network configurations,” said University of Illinois entomology and neuroscience professor Gene Robinson, who led the study. Robinson is the director of the Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois.

The study made use of the BeeSpace Project, which includes an extensive digitized record of gene expression data from bee brains collected under various conditions. Curated by Illinois medical information science professor Bruce Schatz, BeeSpace is a catalog of genes that turn on or off in the bee brain in response to social cues, environmental changes or as a result of hereditary factors. By analyzing gene expression and behavioral data from dozens of studies (which were performed under the auspices of the BeeSpace Project), the researchers were able to get a broad view of the molecular changes in the bee brain that contribute to behavior.

The team focused their analysis on lists of genes implicated in at least one of three categories of behavior: foraging, such as scouting for flowers or navigating to and from the hive; maturation, the process by which an adult honey bee graduates from being a nanny to working as a forager as it grows older; and aggression, or hive defense.

The researchers then used a systems approach, led by Illinois chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Nathan Price (now at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle), to create a computer model of a gene regulatory network that could predict the differences in gene expression seen in the experimental studies.

The model found a “mosaic” pattern of behavior-related gene expression in the brain. It also predicted that a few transcription factors – genes that regulate other genes – regulate gene expression in all three behavioral categories. The researchers call these “global regulators.” Other transcription factors appeared to regulate expression in only one category, such as foraging, but not aggression or maturity, for example. Only four transcription factors were predicted to act like global regulators, while sets of about 15-25 transcription factors were behavior-specific.

Researchers have long worried that the regulation of brain gene expression is too complex to fathom, because so many factors can act together to regulate behavior.

“But now we see that direct, linear relationships between transcription factors and downstream genes can predict a surprisingly large amount of gene expression,” Price said. “This gives scientists hope that it will be possible to completely understand the regulation of brain gene expression in the future.”

Funding for this study was provided by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust.

Editor’s notes: To reach Gene Robinson,
call 217- 265-0309; email generobi@illinois.edu.
The paper, “Behavior-Specific Changes in Transcriptional Modules Lead to Distinct and Predictable Neurogenomic States,” is available online and from the U. of I News Bureau.

Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht 'Y' a protein unicorn might matter in glaucoma
23.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry
23.10.2017 | Rice 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: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>