A role for Synapsin in associative learning: The Drosophila larva as a study case

Birgit Michels, Sören Diegelmann, Hiromu Tanimoto, Isabell Schwenkert, Erich Buchner, Bertram Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Synapsins are evolutionarily conserved, highly abundant vesicular phosphoproteins in presynaptic terminals. They are thought to regulate the recruitment of synaptic vesicles from the reserve pool to the readily-releasable pool, in particular when vesicle release is to be maintained at high spiking rates. As regulation of transmitter release is a prerequisite for synaptic plasticity, we use the fruit fly Drosophila to ask whether Synapsin has a role in behavioral plasticity as well; in fruit flies, Synapsin is encoded by a single gene (syn). We tackled this question for associative olfactory learning in larval Drosophila by using the deletion mutant syn97CS, which had been backcrossed to the Canton-S wild-type strain (CS) for 13 generations. We provide a molecular account of the genomic status of syn97CS by PCR and show the absence of gene product on Western blots and nerve-muscle preparations. We found that olfactory associative learning in syn97CS larvae is reduced to ∼50% of wild-type CS levels; however, responsiveness to the to-be-associated stimuli and motor performance in untrained animals are normal. In addition, we introduce two novel behavioral control procedures to test stimulus responsiveness and motor performance after "sham training." Wild-type CS and syn97CS perform indistinguishably also in these tests. Thus, larval Drosophila can be used as a case study for a role of Synapsin in associative learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-231
Number of pages8
JournalLearning and Memory
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005 May


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