Plenary speaker: Prof. Karla Kaun, Brown University
Plenary title: To drink or Not(ch) to drink: How alcohol molecularly influences memory circuits
Summary: Investigating how drugs of abuse affect molecular mechanisms within reward memory circuits is key to understanding how cravings are acquired and expressed. Combining forward genetics, transcriptomic and detailed circuit mapping approaches in Drosophila, we’ve shown how alcohol influences the a highly conserved cell-signaling pathway, called Notch, to affect gene expression required for memory formation. Our work provides direct evidence that alcohol induces immediate changes in Notch signaling. This leads to gene expression changes required for neuronal plasticity in memory-encoding neurons. Activation of Notch signaling also correlates with expression of alternative transcript isoforms of key genes that regulate multiple forms of memory. This process was very dynamic, and appeared to result in different transcript isoforms of the same gene being expressed after formation of alcohol memory. This suggests that alcohol alters gene expression while memories are becoming encoded, potentially strengthening memories for alcohol. Using circuit mapping techniques, we are investigating how this molecular change can influence a dynamic shift from circuits that form memories to circuits that initiate cue-induced behavioral responses.
BC2021 Details: IBC2021 will be held virtually on Zoom on June 2-3, 2021
Registration link will be available soon (~mid January).