Notching Up Long-Term Memories

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Science  27 Feb 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5662, pp. 1261
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5662.1261c

The membrane receptor Notch is an important regulator of development in the central nervous system. Notch may also function in the adult nervous system. Presente et al. used a temperature-sensitive allele of Notch in Drosophila to study the role of Notch in the adult fly. Behavioral tests of short- and long-term memory formation were conducted on wild-type and mutant flies. Short-term memory was not affected by the loss of Notch in adult flies, but long-term memory was impaired. Long-term memory is thought to require physical remodeling of synapses, and such events might require actions of Notch similar to those exerted during development. The presenillin gene associated with familial Alzheimer's disease encodes a protein that functions in Notch signaling. Because memory defects are prominent symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, further exploration of the mechanisms by which Notch signaling affects learning and memory is warranted. — LBR

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 101, 1764 (2004).

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