Source: Duke-NUS Medical School.Study implements an optogenetic tool that inhibits neural activity. Switching off specific brain regions in a laboratory animal is an important type of experiment used to better understand how the brain works. A study published in Nature Methods by Singapore-based researchers identified effective inhibitors of brain activity in the important animal model Drosophila melanogaster, the common vinegar fly. These new tools are enabling researchers to better understand the relationship between neural circuits and behaviour, expanding our knowledge of the brain. Neurons (brain cells) process information and control behaviour by sending signals to other neurons, hormone-releasing cells and muscles. A fuller understanding of the neuronal control of behaviour would accelerate the development of therapies for neurological and psychiatric disorders. One of the ways researchers have tried to understand the neuronal control of behaviour is with optogenetics, a technique that uses light-sensitive proteins to control neuronal activity in living tissue. In optogenetics, neurons are genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels (proteins that conduct electricity), such that light exposure may be used to activate or inhibit electrical activity. “There are many useful optogenetic tools to stimulate neural activity but not as many effective inhibitors,” explained Assistant Professor Adam Claridge-Chang, who led the research at Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) and A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB).
In one of the experiments, ACR actuation paralysed climbing flies, causing them to fall abruptly. NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the Duke-NUS video.
Funding: This research was supported by a Singapore Ministry of Education Tier 2 project grant (MOE-2013-T2-2-054), project grants (1231AFG030 and 1431AFG120) from the A*STAR Joint Council Office, a Biomedical Research Council block grant to the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Duke-NUS Signature Research Programme, with funding from the Singapore Ministry of Health. Additional funding came from A*STAR Scientific Scholars Fund, the National Research Foundation Fellowship (NRF-NRFF2015-06), a block grant from the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory and the Duke-NUS PhD Programme in Integrated Biology and Medicine.
Source: Dharshini Subbiah – Duke-NUS Medical School
Image Sourceimage is adapted from the Duke-NUS video. Videos Source: The video is credited to Duke-NUS.
Original Research: Abstract for “Optogenetic inhibition of behavior with anion channelrhodopsins” by Farhan Mohammad, James C Stewart, Stanislav Ott, Katarina Chlebikova, Jia Yi Chua, Tong-Wey Koh, Joses Ho & Adam Claridge-Changin Nature Methods. Published online January 23 2017 doi:10.1038/nmeth.4148