Snail Memory Transplant Performed Using RNA, Scientists Say

RNA Moves a Memory From One Snail to Another

This is UCLA Professor David Glanzman holding a marine snail.

"I think in the not-too-distant future, we could potentially use RNA to ameliorate the effects of Alzheimer's disease or post-traumatic stress disorder", said David Glanzman, senior author of the study and a UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology and of neurobiology.

The research, published in the journal eNeuro, could provide new clues in the search for the physical basis of memory.

Next, the team took some ribonucleic acid (RNA), which forms proteins based on cells' DNA, from nerve tissue in the upper abdomen of trained snails and injected it into the untrained snails' necks to get to their circulatory system.

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But Ryan added that radical thinking about memory was sorely needed: "In a field like this which is so full of dogma, where we are waiting for people to retire so we can move on, we need as many new ideas as possible".

The scientists gave mild electric shocks to the tails of a species of marine snail called Aplysia californica.

At the point when a marine snail is given electric tail stuns, its tangible neurons turn out to be more edgy. Animals have developed a protective reflex, expressed in the contraction of the muscles during 50 seconds in subsequent contacts with the electrodes. Sticking electrodes in the snail's tail and shocking it makes this defensive response last longer, tens of seconds, and sometimes up to nearly a minute. Those that had not been given the shocks contracted for only about one second.

When the RNA was inserted into snails that had not undergone this process, they behaved just as if they had been sensitised.

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The scientists also injected RNA from one group of untrained snails into another to make sure it wasn't just the injection process that caused the snails to change their behaviour.

Scientists extracted RNA from the nervous systems of the snails that received the shocks and injected it into a small number of marine snails that had not been sensitised in this way. And sea snails are no exception - their nerves transmit impulses much the way ours do. The researchers also tested some of the same techniques on snail neurons in a petri dish.

But Prof Glanzman said: "If memories were stored at synapses, there is no way our experiment would have worked". Instead, Glanzman believes they may be storied in the nuclei of neurons, a theory that needs more study to be definitively shown.

"These are marine snails and, when they are alarmed, they release a handsome purple ink to hide themselves from predators", Glanzman said in a statement.

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Researchers find out about the cell science of this straightforward type of learning in this creature than some other type of learning in some other living being, Glanzman said. He and his partners distributed research in the diary eLife in 2014 showing that lost recollections can be reestablished. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. L. (2018). RNA from Trained Aplysia Can Induce an Epigenetic Engram for Long-Term Sensitization in Untrained Aplysia.

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