Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that mutant screens generate a large panel of mutant animals that average a mutation in one gene. Each animal is then tested for a particular characteristic.
Mutant screening is a way that geneticists use to find the building blocks of a particular biological process. So the assumption of a mutant screen is that the basic instructions in the chromosomes, in the genes, will play a role in building a particular biological process. It could be building the structure of the eye; it could be telling the embryo which end is going to be the head and which end will be the tail, or it could be wiring the brain in such a way that it can learn. And a mutant screen is done by randomly perturbing genes, usually with chemicals that disrupt chromosomes, and generating a huge panel of mutant animals, each of which on average has a mutation in one gene and then systematically, laboriously testing each of those animals for whatever the characteristic is weâ€™re interested in, and we call those characteristics phenotypes. In the case of memory, we would generate a panel of thousands of animals, each of which had a mutation in one gene, and carefully measure the behavior of the animal in a way that told us how well that animal could learn and remember a particular experience. And we would find the individual flies that had mutations in individual genes that impacted the abilities of that animal, and then try to identify what those genes are.
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Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that some genes are preferentially active in one part of the brain or body, while other genes are particular active in another location.
Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that genes are responsible for memory in that they contain the raw instructions for memory. Experience determines how these instructions are assembled.
Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that the function of signaling networks is to receive signals from outside the cell, and transmit that information into the cell, in some cases to the nucleus.
Doctor Josh Dubnau discusses some remarkably sophisticated behaviors in fruit flies that suggest that they do have cognition.
Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that the cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling network can receive signals from outside the cell and use the signal to alter the function of the cell.
Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that model systems are particular species of animals that substitute for humans or other animals. For genetic and historic reasons, the fruit fly is a commonly used model.
An animation about screening for recessive genetic diseases.
Doctor Josh Dubnau describes learning as a change in an animal’s behavior in response to previous stimuli or experience.
Doctor Josh Dubnau explains that the genes active in different neurons can make them excitatory (e.g. glutamate) or inhibitory (e.g. GABA). These neurotransmitters are critical to learning.
Doctor Josh Dubnau describes how he and his colleagues at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory devised an experiment that dissociated the encoding and retrieval of memory in fruit flies.