Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UT Southwestern scientist helps identify neurons in worms that control link between stress, eating

31.10.2002


Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the University of California, San Francisco have shown that feeding behavior in worms is controlled by neurons that detect adverse or stressful conditions.



The findings are published in the Oct. 31 issue of Nature.

The discovery of the gene that controls social feeding behavior in worms was made in 1998 by researchers at UCSF. The new findings build on the earlier research by identifying the nociceptive neurons – neurons that transmit pain signals - triggering group feeding.


"The gene that controls this behavior in worms is like the one that controls feeding in humans," said Dr. Leon Avery, associate professor of molecular biology at UT Southwestern and an author of the study. "The epidemic of obesity in America makes [the findings on neurons] potentially relevant to health."

Scientists have long known that soil worms, called Caenorhabditis elegans, have varying eating habits. The species of the worm commonly used in research labs tends to feed alone. In the wild, however, most of the C. elegans feed in groups.

"It’s like they’re having a party," Avery said. "Other worms pay no attention to each other when there’s food."

In higher species, factors like season, availability of food and natural enemies can regulate aggregation behavior, which in turn can affect biodiversity as well as community structure and dynamics. Although social scientists have made strides in understanding the significance group behaviors have had on ecological and evolutionary processes, little research has been done on the basic neural mechanisms underlying this behavior.

Avery and other researchers were able to show that whether the worms ate alone or in groups was dictated by the existence of the ADL and ASH nociceptive neurons. Worms without ASH and ADL eat alone.

C. elegans are studied because they have a genetic makeup similar to humans. Because their systems are very small (about 950 cells make up an entire worm), genes are easier to track and study. About 1 millimeter long, the worms grow, reproduce and age much like humans. Researchers who identified key genes in C. elegans involved in organ development and programmed cell death were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine earlier this month.

Avery said the Nature study is the culmination of a decade-long research project. Some of the initial work was performed in 1990 by Dr. M. Wayne Davis, another of the study’s authors, when he was a summer undergraduate research fellow at UT Southwestern under the tutelage of Avery. Davis is currently a researcher at the University of Utah.


###
The work was supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Medical Research Council of Great Britain.

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, go to http://www3.utsouthwestern.edu/ and click on "Latest News." Then click on "Receive Our News" in the left navigation and follow the instructions.


Steve O’Brien | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www3.utsouthwestern.edu/
http://www.swmed.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Platinum nanoparticles for selective treatment of liver cancer cells
15.02.2019 | ETH Zurich

nachricht New molecular blueprint advances our understanding of photosynthesis
15.02.2019 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

Im Focus: Famous “sandpile model” shown to move like a traveling sand dune

Researchers at IST Austria find new property of important physical model. Results published in PNAS

The so-called Abelian sandpile model has been studied by scientists for more than 30 years to better understand a physical phenomenon called self-organized...

Im Focus: Cryo-force spectroscopy reveals the mechanical properties of DNA components

Physicists from the University of Basel have developed a new method to examine the elasticity and binding properties of DNA molecules on a surface at extremely low temperatures. With a combination of cryo-force spectroscopy and computer simulations, they were able to show that DNA molecules behave like a chain of small coil springs. The researchers reported their findings in Nature Communications.

DNA is not only a popular research topic because it contains the blueprint for life – it can also be used to produce tiny components for technical applications.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gravitational waves will settle cosmic conundrum

15.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Spintronics by 'straintronics'

15.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Platinum nanoparticles for selective treatment of liver cancer cells

15.02.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>