Scientists Discover Molecular Mechanism of Long-term Memory

by Colleen Fleiss on Dec 2 2020 11:49 PM

Scientists Discover Molecular Mechanism of Long-term Memory
A molecular mechanism that plays a central role in intact long-term memory has been discovered by University of Basel researchers. The molecular mechanism is also involved in physiological memory loss in old age. The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.
For basic and clinical research, detecting the molecules involved in memory processes is of great importance, since it can point the way to the development of drugs for memory disorders.

The team led by Dr Attila Stetak, Professor Andreas Papassotiropoulos and Professor Dominique de Quervain used sensory stimuli to examine the learning and memory ability of genetically modified roundworms lacking a certain gene, mps-2.

Mps-2 gene is suspected of playing a role in memory functions.

The study results revealed that modified worms had equally good short-term memory as unmodified specimens. Genetically modified worms (without mps-2 gene) had a reduced long-term memory.

In roundworms, as in humans, memory loss can be observed with increasing age. However, the molecular basis behind the loss of memory is unclear.

In further studies, the researchers proved that unmodified worms with the mps-2 gene exhibited a strong reduction of the MPS-2 protein in old age. A strong reduction of the MPS-2 protein is linked to reduced memory performance.

The research team also identified another protein, NHR-66, as responsible for regulating this deficiency.

If in older worms MPS-2 protein level was artificially induced or their NHR-66 was turned off, they had a similarly good memory as younger worms.

In further studies, the researchers want to examine therapeutic options based on their discovery.