Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fruit fly gene study leads to new method for understanding brain function

Date:
September 12, 2010
Source:
University of Oklahoma
Summary:
A team of researchers studying neurobiology in fruit flies has developed a new method for understanding brain function with potential applications in studies of human neurological diseases.

A team of University of Oklahoma researchers studying neurobiology in fruit flies (Drosophila) has developed a new method for understanding brain function with potential applications in studies of human neurological diseases.

Related Articles


The work is carried out in the laboratory of Bing Zhang, a professor in the OU Department of Zoology, using fruit flies as a model for understanding what happens in the human brain because they share thousands of the same genes with a human.

Zhang and his students use a 'reverse engineering' approach to understand how the brain works. "If we know how cells behave in fruit flies, we may better understand how they work in humans," says Zhang. "A key experimental step to achieving this goal is to manipulate brain cells and observe their effects on animal behavior. This is usually done by targeting one or two cells at a time or a small group of cells."

How to target brain cells depends largely on advances in genetic techniques or tools. In the past 20 years, Drosophila researchers have developed sophisticated tools for cell and gene manipulation. However, one current and widely used method, called the GAL4/UAS system, is limited in its applicability to target small subsets of cells.

The method developed by Zhang's group takes advantage of two additional genetic tools that when used in combination with the GAL4/UAS system, greatly expands its utility. The new method represents a significant advance, enabling researchers to now more precisely manipulate a small subset of brain cells.

Zhang stressed that Rudolf Bohm, a talented postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory, was instrumental in developing the initial ideas for this method. Furthermore, a group of highly driven and capable undergraduate students made significant contributions to the project, including Will Welch, Lindsey Goodnight, Logan Cox, Leah Henry and Tyler Gunter.

According to Zhang, "There is no limit to the types of studies that can be done using fruit flies." For example, fly neurobiologists can learn a lot about the brain in stroke patients by studying similar cell behavior in fruit flies. The same method can be applied with studies of human diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Zhang and his colleagues even study drug and alcohol addiction in fruit flies to understand human substance addiction and abuse.

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to Zhang for advances in neurobiology research that will benefit the research community-at-large, for outreach activities in the community and local schools, and for diverse educational opportunities that involve numerous undergraduate students.

An article on this study was recently published in the September 14 issue of the scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. An image of the eyes of a fruit fly related to Zhang's study was chosen as the cover art for the same issue.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oklahoma. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. A. Bohm, W. P. Welch, L. K. Goodnight, L. W. Cox, L. G. Henry, T. C. Gunter, H. Bao, B. Zhang. A genetic mosaic approach for neural circuit mapping in Drosophila. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1004669107

Cite This Page:

University of Oklahoma. "Fruit fly gene study leads to new method for understanding brain function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100910093158.htm>.
University of Oklahoma. (2010, September 12). Fruit fly gene study leads to new method for understanding brain function. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100910093158.htm
University of Oklahoma. "Fruit fly gene study leads to new method for understanding brain function." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100910093158.htm (accessed January 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, January 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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