Washington, October 26 Only a few drinks in the evening can change how memories are formed on the basic molecular…
Washington, October 26 Only a few drinks in the evening can change how memories are formed on the basic molecular level, suggests a study.
One of the many challenges in the fight against alcohol dependence and other addiction problems is the risk of relapse, even after progress towards recovery, researchers from Brown University in the United States say.
Even pesky fruitflies have a hankering for alcohol, and because the molecular signals involved in forming the flies reward and avoidance memories are very similar to those in humans, they are a good model for study, they said.
The study, published in the newspaper Neuron, in flies showed that alcohol hijacks this memory pathway and changes the proteins expressed in the neurons and forms desire.
Researchers revealed molecular pathways and changes in gene expression involved in creating and retaining reward memory.
“One of the things I want to understand is why addiction addiction can provide truly rewarding memories when they are really neurotoxins,” said Karla Kaun, assistant professor at Brown University.
Headed by Emily Petruccelli, now a deputy professor at Southern Illinois University in the United States, the team used genetic tools to selectively shut down key genes while training the flies where you find alcohol.
This enabled them to see which proteins were required for this reward behavior.
One of the proteins responsible for the fly’s preference for alcohol is Notch, found the researchers.
Notch is the first “domino” in a signal pathway involved in embryonic development, brain development and function of adult brains in humans and all other animals.
Molecular signal paths are not unlike the cascades of the domains ̵
1; when the first domino falls (in this case, activates the biological molecule), it triggers more that triggers more and so on.
One of the downstream dominions in the signaling pathway that is affected by alcohol is a gene called dopamine-2-like receptor, which makes a protein on neurons recognizing dopamine, the “feeling-good” neurotransmitter.
“The dopamine-2-like receptor is known to be involved in encode whether a memory is pleasing or aversive,” said Petruccelli. Alcohol hijacks this preserved memory path to form requests.
In the case of alcohol reward investigation, the signaling cascade did not turn the dopamine receptor gene on or off or increase or decrease the amount of protein produced, Kaun said.
Instead, it had a subtle effect – the altered version of the protein made by a single amino acid “letter” in an important area.
“We do not know what the biological consequences of the small change are, but one of the important results of this study is that researchers need to look not only at which genes are turned on and off, but what kinds of genes are on and off, “said Kaun.
“We think these results are very likely to translate into other forms of addiction, but no one has investigated it,” she said.
Kaun works with John McGeary, Assistant Professor at Brown, to watch DNA samples from patients with alcohol abuse testing to see if they have genetic polymorphisms in any of the request-related genes detected in flies.
“If this works in the same way in humans, a glass of wine is enough to activate the road, but it returns to normally within an hour,” Kaun said.
“After three glasses, at an hour’s intervals, the road does not return to normal after 24 hours. We think this persistence is likely to change the gene expression in memory circuits,” said Kaun.
“Just something to think about next time you share a bottle of wine with a friend or husband,” she said. SAR