The US journal Proceedings of National the National Academy of Science has published a paper on the oskar gene. The publication features the results of a research project carried out at Harvard University by a team featuring Dr Guillem Ylla, head of the Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Genome Biology of the JU Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology.
The oskar gene is characteristic of insects, which acquired it through domain transfer from bacteria. The paper shows how the newly-acquired gene became part of the regulatory interactions of previously existing genes in order to control important functions of the organism. In particular, researchers have proven that oskar plays a crucial role long-term regulation of olfactory memory of crickets through the Creb gene, which is known to regulate long-term memory in all animals.
Crickets have long been used in neurobiology as model animals, since in contrast to humans and flies, the organisms of adult crickets create numerous new neurons for the specific purpose of learning.
The research project published in the paper oskar acts with the transcription factor Creb to regulate long-term memory in crickets is a step forward in understanding the evolution of regulatory gene networks and how the acquisition of long-term memories is controlled.