Caspase inhibition in select olfactory neurons restores innate attraction behavior in aged Drosophila
pgen_10_6_e1004437.pdf 7.01 MB
Davis, Ronald L
Wang, Jing W
Sensory and cognitive performance decline with age. Neural dysfunction caused by nerve death in senile dementia and neurodegenerative disease has been intensively studied; however, functional changes in neural circuits during the normal aging process are not well understood. Caspases are key regulators of cell death, a hallmark of age-related neurodegeneration. Using a genetic probe for caspase-3-like activity (DEVDase activity), we have mapped age-dependent neuronal changes in the adult brain throughout the lifespan of Drosophila. Spatio-temporally restricted caspase activation was observed in the antennal lobe and ellipsoid body, brain structures required for olfaction and visual place memory, respectively. We also found that caspase was activated in an age-dependent manner in specific subsets of Drosophila olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), Or42b and Or92a neurons. These neurons are essential for mediating innate attraction to food-related odors. Furthermore, age-induced impairments of neural transmission and attraction behavior could be reversed by specific inhibition of caspase in these ORNs, indicating that caspase activation in Or42b and Or92a neurons is responsible for altering animal behavior during normal aging.
This work was supported by grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to TC and MMi, from the Uehara memorial foundation to TC, from NIH to JWW (DK092640), and from NIH to RLD (2R37 NS19904-30). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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© 2014 Chihara et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.