Research Points to Orb2 as a Physical Substrate For Memory Strength and Retention

What underlies the making of a memory? Using molecular tools to manipulate a prion-like protein in fruit flies, researchers in the Si Lab have discovered evidence for specific molecular changes necessary for the formation, storage, and retrieval of memories.

The group reports that the protein Orb2 appears to be part of a memory stamp in the brain produced by a particular experience. The researchers also discovered that another protein, JJJ2, assists Orb2 in the formation of long-term memory. This work provides insight on how memories are made and retained in the fruit fly brain. Humans have a protein counterpart to Orb2 called CPEB, which suggests similar mechanisms may be involved in human memory.

This study was published in the December 5, 2016, issue of Current Biology.