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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2018 Oct 22. doi: 10.1007/s00018-018-2948-z. [Epub ahead of print]

Immediate early genes in social insects: a tool to identify brain regions involved in complex behaviors and molecular processes underlying neuroplasticity.

Author information

1
Behavioral Physiology and Sociobiology (Zoology II), Biozentrum, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074, Würzburg, Germany. frank.sommerlandt@uni-wuerzburg.de.
2
National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bellary Road, Bangalore, 560065, India.
3
Behavioral Physiology and Sociobiology (Zoology II), Biozentrum, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074, Würzburg, Germany.

Abstract

Social insects show complex behaviors and master cognitive tasks. The underlying neuronal mechanisms, however, are in most cases only poorly understood due to challenges in monitoring brain activity in freely moving animals. Immediate early genes (IEGs) that get rapidly and transiently expressed following neuronal stimulation provide a powerful tool for detecting behavior-related neuronal activity in vertebrates. In social insects, like honey bees, and in insects in general, this approach is not yet routinely established, even though these genes are highly conserved. First studies revealed a vast potential of using IEGs as neuronal activity markers to analyze the localization, function, and plasticity of neuronal circuits underlying complex social behaviors. We summarize the current knowledge on IEGs in social insects and provide ideas for future research directions.

KEYWORDS:

Activity-regulated genes; Honey bee; Long-term memory formation; Mapping tool; c-jun; egr-1

PMID:
30349993
DOI:
10.1007/s00018-018-2948-z

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