Two recent highlights from Cell Press's weekly open-access journal Cell Reports:
Fruit flies remember a good meal
New research on the science of appetite has found that the fruit fly brain is wired to remember and crave sweeter, energy-rich foods. After smelling and consuming a meal, such as a glob of sugar, information about the food's energy content is relayed via dopaminergic neurons to a fruit fly's olfactory long-term memory center. High-energy meals generated a more powerful dopamine signal, making it more likely that the fly would remember the odor of the meal when it was next encountered and choose it over other options. Flies had only short-term memories of low-energy meals. The researchers--neuroscientists Pierre-Yves Musso, Paul Tchenio, and Thomas Preat at the CNRS and ESPCI-ParisTech in Paris, France--believe that long term memory formation helps fruit flies avoid pursuing food sources that would be a waste of energy.
Musso et al.: "Delayed Dopamine Signaling of Energy Level Builds Appetitive Long-Term Memory in Drosophila" Cell Reports. (February 19, 2015.) http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/abstract/S2211-1247(15)00061-3
Blood growth factor activates neural stem cells
A growth factor that controls the formation of blood vessels in the brain can also stimulate mouse and human neural stem cells to produce new brain cells, Yale University researchers have discovered. The molecule is now being eyed as a candidate to treat neurological disease and promote the division of new stem cells in the aging brain. Neurobiologist Jean-Leon Thomas and colleagues, in collaboration with vascular biologist Anne Eichmann, found that neural stem cells lacking a receptor for the blood vessel growth factor produced fewer new brain cells in the hippocampus of mice. The researchers then observed that mice without the receptor were more anxious than mice with intact receptors in stem cells. Surprisingly, one form of the growth factor (VEGF-C) does not stimulate brain blood vessel formation at doses that activate brain stem cells, which highlights its clinical potential.
Han et al.: "Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 controls neural stem cell activation in mice and humans" Cell Reports. (Published online February 19, 2015.) http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/abstract/S2211-1247(15)00074-1
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