New research from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research revealed proteins responsible for long-lasting memories.
In the study, researchers focused on finding the molecular changes that program a memory in specific neurons as it endures for days, months, or years. They discovered prion-forming proteins, like Orb2, are essential for memory to persist in fruit flies and can be precisely controlled to generate in a specific time and place. Orb2 existed in two forms, Orb2A and Orb2B, according to lead study author Kausik Si. However Orb2A only appeared in a few neurons and quickly fell apart.
Si and his team found when another protein called TOB interacted with Orb2A, it increased the abundance and life of Orb2A, thus increasing long-term memory. “This basic mechanism appears to be conserved across species,” Si was quoted as saying. He pointed out proteins related to Orb2 and TOB have also been found in the brains of mice and humans.