While research has identified hundreds of genes required for normal memory formation, genes that suppress memory are of special interest because they offer insights into how the brain prioritizes and manages all of the information, including memories, that it takes in every day. These genes also provide clues for how scientists might develop new treatments for cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a unique memory suppressor gene in the brain cells of Drosophila, the common fruit fly, a widely recognized substitute for human memory studies. The study, which was led by Ron Davis, chair of TSRI’s Department of Neuroscience, was published April 14, 2016, in the journal Neuron.
“Memory processes and the genes that make the brain proteins required for memory are evolutionarily conserved between mammals and fruit flies,” said Research Associate Ze Liu, co-first author of the study. “The majority of human cognitive disease-causing genes have the same functional genetic counterparts in flies.”