Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein Tied To Alzheimer's Also Plays Key Role In Honeybees

Date:
October 8, 2001
Source:
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
A protein targeted by drug treatments in some patients with Alzheimer’s disease also appears to play an important role in honeybees (Apis melifera), researchers say. U.S. and Israeli scientists – led by Gene E. Robinson of the University of Illinois – report that forager bees, which work outside the hive collecting nectar and pollen, have lower activity levels of the acetylcholingesterase (AChE) protein in their brains than do younger nurse bees.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A protein targeted by drug treatments in some patients with Alzheimer’s disease also appears to play an important role in honeybees (Apis melifera), researchers say. U.S. and Israeli scientists – led by Gene E. Robinson of the University of Illinois – report that forager bees, which work outside the hive collecting nectar and pollen, have lower activity levels of the acetylcholingesterase (AChE) protein in their brains than do younger nurse bees.

Related Articles


AChE is an enzyme that breaks down a primary neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine (ACh). Neurons use ACh to communicate with one another. In the human body, ACh signals muscle movement, and, in the brain, it is linked to learning and memory. In many Alzheimer’s patients, researchers have noted a loss of neurons that secrete ACh. One treatment is the use of an AChE inhibitor. The scientists, reporting in a recent issue of the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, showed that the reduction of AChE protein activity is the result of the down regulation of the AChE gene.

“A reduction in AChE activity might mean that foragers, which among honeybees lead the most challenging life, have enhanced ACh neurotransmission,” said Robinson, a professor of entomology and neuroscience. He speculated that enhanced ACh neurotransmission in foragers, as in humans, may improve cognitive performance.

Honeybees live in a social world known for its distinct division of labor based on age-specific tasks. They begin their adult life working inside the hive as sanitation workers and nursemaids, among other roles. They then shift to foraging outside the hive when they are about 3 weeks old. The shift to foraging requires the learning of new skills, many revolving around vision and smell.

AChE accounts for almost all of the cholinesterase activity in the brain of a honeybee, suggesting that this particular protein may regulate major aspects of cholinergetic activity, Robinson said. While the biochemical makeup of AChE was the same in nurses and foragers, the decline of catalytic activity of AChE ranged from 20 percent to 65 percent in the foragers. Other experiments showed that the drop in AChE activity was probably “due to aging or experience as a forager” and not associated with the transition from working in the hive to foraging.

When researchers used an inhibitor, metrifonate, to reduce AChE activity, the treated foragers consistently outscored the control foragers in a laboratory learning test. “Although it is not clear whether foragers have higher cognitive capacities than nurses, our findings provide a possible explanation if that is the case,” Robinson said.

Co-authors were Robinson and C.K. Thompson, a Howard Hughes Research Fellow in the UI department of entomology, and M. Shapira and H. Soreq, both of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The research was funded in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, and the Israeli Ministry of Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Protein Tied To Alzheimer's Also Plays Key Role In Honeybees." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011003063753.htm>.
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. (2001, October 8). Protein Tied To Alzheimer's Also Plays Key Role In Honeybees. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011003063753.htm
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Protein Tied To Alzheimer's Also Plays Key Role In Honeybees." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011003063753.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins