Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Scientists Discover Genetic Basis for Memory Formation with Implications for Neurological Diseases

Published: Monday, December 23, 2013
Last Updated: Sunday, December 22, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Two genes linked to simple memory formation also regulate appropriate nerve responses that are lacking in related disease sufferers.

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin have shown for the first time that two genes involved in many neurological diseases act together to regulate specific aspects of protein production in nerve cells and allow the development of a simple form of memory called habituation.

These findings have implications for our understanding of memory formation in general, and will also aid ongoing research in related diseases.

Habituation occurs when we are repeatedly exposed to a stimulus and our response is lessened over time as a result. Two everyday examples include our ability to stop hearing ambient noise when concentrating on a particular task, and the fact that we stop feeling the clothes we are wearing once we are dressed.

The scientists behind the discovery worked with fruit flies to explore the fundamentals of memory and learning and to investigate the molecular function of the two genes, called ‘Atx2’ and ‘FMRP’.

Atx2 is associated with Motor Neurone Disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 2, while FMRP is known to impact mental retardation and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Fruit flies of the species Drosophila melanogaster have been used by many geneticists over the last century as ‘model organisms’ that allow them to explore the way genes work. Genetic mutations that prevent appropriate protein production and suppression in specific nerve cells are often linked with neurological diseases, with a common element among these diseases being the inability of an affected individual to adapt to a new or changing environment.

The scientists, led by Professor of Neurogenetics at Trinity, Mani Ramaswami, recently published their results in the prominent international journal PNAS. They showed that flies that normally learned to ignore a familiar, unpleasant smell, failed to do so if they had defects in either gene. They proposed two potential explanations for defective protein regulation based on their results.

Mutations that cause a loss of function in both genes lead to a failure to reduce protein production when associated proteins are not required, while an increased or altered function of the genes leads to a ‘hyper-repressed’ state in which the stimulation of specific protein production is prevented when these proteins are required.

Professor Ramaswami said: “This work may provide a partial explanation not only for defects in memory consolidation that is associated with early-stage neurodegenerative disease, but also for defects in adaptive ability seen in autism spectrum disorders.”

Dr Jens Hillebrand, Research Fellow in Genetics at Trinity and co-lead author on the paper, added: "It is nice to be able to potentially explain why FMRP and Atx2 diseases in humans are symptomatically different, even though the two proteins have rather similar normal functions."

The work is based on a successful, close collaboration with Dr K Vijay Raghavan's group in the National Center of Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, India, and Dr Roy Parker’s group in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Boulder Colorado, USA.

In addition, the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, provided essential newly developed genomic tools being developed as part of a large collaboration including Trinity and NCBS.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Genetic Mutation Could Increase Understanding of ADHD
Absence of normal gene that expresses a protein involved in nerve cell communication results in seizures and hyperactivity.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
International Research Project Identifies a New Genetic Mutation that Helps Explain the Development of Eczema
Scientists have identified a new genetic mutation linked to the development of a type of eczema known as atopic dermatitis (AD).
Monday, November 04, 2013
New Genetic Mutation Helps Explain Development of Eczema
Researchers found that a mutation in the gene Matt/Tmem79 led to the development of spontaneous dermatitis in mice.
Monday, November 04, 2013
Scientists Propose a Molecular Explanation for Degenerative Disease
An international collaboration has shed new light on the origins and molecular causes of age related degenerative conditions including Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
Monday, August 19, 2013
Scientific News
Poor Survival Rates in Leukemia Linked to Persistent Genetic Mutations
For patients with an often-deadly form of leukemia, new research suggests that lingering cancer-related mutations – detected after initial treatment with chemotherapy – are associated with an increased risk of relapse and poor survival.
Searching Big Data Faster
Theoretical analysis could expand applications of accelerated searching in biology, other fields.
Growing Hepatitis C in the Lab
Recent discovery allows study of naturally occurring forms of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the lab.
Inciting an Immune Attack on Cancer Cells
A new minimally invasive vaccine that combines cancer cells and immune-enhancing factors could be used clinically to launch a destructive attack on tumors.
Reprogramming Cancer Cells
Researchers on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus have discovered a way to potentially reprogram cancer cells back to normalcy.
Genetic Overlapping in Multiple Autoimmune Diseases May Suggest Common Therapies
CHOP genomics expert leads analysis of genetic architecture, with eye on repurposing existing drugs.
Surprising Mechanism Behind Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Uncovered
Now, scientists at TSRI have discovered that the important human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, develops resistance to this drug by “switching on” a previously uncharacterized set of genes.
How DNA ‘Proofreader’ Proteins Pick and Edit Their Reading Material
Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered how two important proofreader proteins know where to look for errors during DNA replication and how they work together to signal the body’s repair mechanism.
Fat in the Family?
Study could lead to therapeutics that boost metabolism.
Tissue Bank Pays Dividends for Brain Cancer Research
Checking what’s in the bank – the Brisbane Breast Bank, that is – has paid dividends for UQ cancer researchers.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!