Genetic rescue of functional senescence in synaptic and behavioral plasticity
Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology
STUDY OBJECTIVES: Aging has been linked with decreased neural plasticity and memory formation in humans and in laboratory model species such as the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Here, we examine plastic responses following social experience in Drosophila as a high-throughput method to identify interventions that prevent these impairments.
PATIENTS OR PARTICIPANTS: Wild-type and transgenic Drosophila melanogaster.
DESIGN AND INTERVENTIONS: Young (5-day old) or aged (20-day old) adult female Drosophila were housed in socially enriched (n = 35-40) or isolated environments, then assayed for changes in sleep and for structural markers of synaptic terminal growth in the ventral lateral neurons (LNVs) of the circadian clock.
MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: When young flies are housed in a socially enriched environment, they exhibit synaptic elaboration within a component of the circadian circuitry, the LNVs, which is followed by increased sleep. Aged flies, however, no longer exhibit either of these plastic changes. Because of the tight correlation between neural plasticity and ensuing increases in sleep, we use sleep after enrichment as a high-throughput marker for neural plasticity to identify interventions that prolong youthful plasticity in aged flies. To validate this strategy, we find three independent genetic manipulations that delay age-related losses in plasticity: (1) elevation of dopaminergic signaling, (2) over-expression of the transcription factor blistered (bs) in the LNVs, and (3) reduction of the Imd immune signaling pathway. These findings provide proof-of-principle evidence that measuring changes in sleep in flies after social enrichment may provide a highly scalable assay for the study of age-related deficits in synaptic plasticity.
CONCLUSIONS: These studies demonstrate that Drosophila provides a promising model for the study of age-related loss of neural plasticity and begin to identify genes that might be manipulated to delay the onset of functional senescence.
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Citation: Sleep. 2014 Sep 1;37(9):1427-37. doi: 10.5665/sleep.3988. Link to article on publisher's site
Donlea, Jeffrey M.; Ramanan, Narendrakumar; Silverman, Neal S.; and Shaw, Paul J., "Genetic rescue of functional senescence in synaptic and behavioral plasticity" (2014). Infectious Diseases and Immunology Publications and Presentations. 168.