Navigation Links
Bisexual fruit flies show new role for neurochemical

Fruit flies' ability to discern one sex from another may depend on the number of receptors on the surface of nerve cells, and the number of receptors is controlled by levels of a ubiquitous brain chemical, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers have found.

Everything from the ability to concentrate, perceive and learn to debilitating illnesses such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress syndrome and schizophrenia is influenced by the number of receptors on nerve cells. The more receptors each cell has at its communication points, or synapses, the better that messages are carried through the brain.

A UIC research team led by David Featherstone, assistant professor of biological sciences, has discovered that receptor numbers are controlled by the brain's level of glutamate. But it is not the same glutamate that most neuroscientists think about -- the neurotransmitter that moves in message packets across the synapse. Instead, it is what Featherstone calls ambient extracellular glutamate, which just floats around the nervous system and has generally been ignored because no one knew where it came from or what it was doing.

For years, scientists failed to identify glutamate as a key neurotransmitter precisely because there was so much of it.

"It made no sense," said Featherstone. "People figured you couldn't use glutamate to send messages because there was too much glutamate background noise in the brain. It turns out that this background noise plays an important part in regulating information transfer."

Featherstone and his lab team found that glia cells are the source of the excess ambient glutamate. Along with neurons, these poorly understood "support" cells fill the brain.

The team discovered proteins in fruit fly glia cells that regulate the amount of ambient glutamate in the brain. Called xCT transporter proteins, they pump glutamate out of glia cells.

"When we mutate the protein, we get less ambient extracellular glutamate, more glutamate receptors, and so a stronger transfer of messages at synapses," Featherstone said.

The gene mutation also made the flies bisexual, leading him to name the gene "genderblind."

"The mutants are completely bisexual, but fertile. It's the first gene that really specifically affects homosexual behavior without affecting heterosexual behavior," he said.

"Trying to understand fly bisexuality sounds silly, but these behavioral changes are important evidence that ambient extracellular glutamate and xCT transport proteins play important, unsuspected roles in brain function," Featherstone said. "We think we'll be able to learn a lot about perception and development from figuring out exactly what's happening in these flies.

"It's amazing how many biomedical breakthroughs have come from crazy directions."


'"/>

Source:University of Illinois at Chicago


Related biology news :

1. Master gene controls healing of skin in fruit flies and mammals
2. UI researcher studies deafness in fruit flies, humans
3. Gap-climbing fruit flies reveal components of goal-driven behaviors
4. Hormones and growth: The control of body size and developmental growth rate in fruit flies
5. Aloe vera coating may prolong freshness, safety of fruits and vegetables
6. Hanging baskets of sex and death help fruit growers
7. Researchers find gland that tells fruit flies when to stop growing
8. Past experience of pheromones induces dominant courtship behavior in fruit flies
9. A resetting signal keeps circadian rhythm on track in Drosophila fruit flies
10. Drunken elephants: The marula fruit myth
11. UCSD study finds anthrax toxins also harmful to fruit flies
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:3/7/2017)... LAKE CITY , March 7, 2017   ... that help top global companies identify the best talent, ... as Chief Sales Officer (CSO) and Diana ... Kucer,s appointments round out a seasoned executive team poised to ... and beyond, building on a year of record bookings ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... Summary This report provides all ... and its partnering interests and activities since 2010. ... The Partnering Deals and Alliance since 2010 report provides ... of the world,s leading life sciences companies. ... ensure inclusion of the most up to date deal ...
(Date:3/1/2017)... , March 1, 2017  Aware, Inc. (NASDAQ: AWRE), ... that Richard P. Moberg has resigned, effective ... and Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Aware citing ... serve as a member of the Board of Directors ... Aware,s co-Chief Executive Officer and co-President, General Counsel has ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/27/2017)... 27, 2017 Roka Bioscience, Inc. (NASDAQ: ROKA), a ... the detection of foodborne pathogens,  today announced that Mary ... Spring 2017 Convention on March 29 at 9:50am ET. The ... About Roka Bioscience ... Roka Bioscience is a ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... , ... March 27, 2017 , ... ... (mCRC) generally produce small, heterogeneous samples with limited tumor content in a large ... to be resolved, such as the need for reliable detection of low abundance ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... , March 27, 2017  Perthera,s Chief Bioinformatics Officer ... Subha Madhavan , Ph.D., will be speaking at ... Panels. On Monday, March 27, 2017, she will be ... More Usable for Research and Care" (from 10:30 a.m. ... 2017, she will be a participant in the "Making ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... ... March 27, 2017 , ... A ... and customizable vascular grafts in JoVE’s Video Journal, the world’s first peer-reviewed scientific ... improved ways of treating coronary artery disease (CAD). Lam is an assistant professor ...
Breaking Biology Technology: