Washington: A new study has shed light on a genome and has revealed new genes that are involved in forming long-term memories.
The study conducted in c. Elegans worms at Princeton University aimed at finding ways to retain cognitive abilities during aging.
Senior author Coleen Murphy, an associate professor of molecular biology and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, said that the study identified more than 750 genes involved in long-term memory, including many that had not been found previously and that could serve as targets for future research.
Murphy said that there is a pretty direct relationship between CREB (cAMP-response element-binding protein) and long-term memory and many organisms lose CREB as they age and by studying the CREB-activated genes involved in long-term memory, the researchers hope to better understand why some organisms lose their long-term memories as they age.
To identify the genes, the researchers first instilled long-term memories in the worms by training them to associate meal-time with a butterscotch smell. Trained worms were able to remember that the butterscotch smell means dinner for about 16 hours, a significant amount of time for the worm.
The researchers then scanned the genomes of both trained worms and non-trained worms, looking for genes turned on by CREB.
The researchers detected 757 CREB-activated genes in the long-term memory-trained worms, and showed that these genes were turned on primarily in worm cells called the AIM interneurons.
The researchers also found CREB-activated genes in non-trained worms, but the genes were not turned on in AIM interneurons and were not involved in long-term memory. CREB turns on genes involved in other biological functions such as growth, immune response, and metabolism. Throughout the worm, the researchers noted distinct non-memory (or "basal") genes in addition to the memory-related genes.
The study is published in the journal Neuron.