Roles for Eph receptor tyrosine kinase and ephrin signaling in vertebrate brain development are well established. Their involvement in the modulation of mammalian synaptic structure and physiology is also emerging. However, less is known of their effects on brain development and their function in adult invertebrate nervous systems. Here, we report on the characterization of Eph receptor and ephrin orthologs in the honeybee, Apis mellifera (Am), and their role in learning and memory. In situ hybridization for mRNA expression showed a uniform distribution of expression of both genes across the developing pupal and adult brain. However, in situ labeling with Fc fusion proteins indicated that the AmEphR and Amephrin proteins were differentially localized to cell body regions in the mushroom bodies and the developing neuropiles of the antennal and optic lobes. In adults, AmEphR protein was localized to regions of synaptic contacts in optic lobes, in the glomeruli of antennal lobes, and in the medial lobe of the mushroom body. The latter two regions are involved in olfactory learning and memory in the honeybee. Injections of EphR-Fc and ephrin-Fc proteins into the brains of adult bees, 1 h before olfactory conditioning of the proboscis extension reflex, significantly reduced memory 24 h later. Experimental amnesia in the group injected with ephrin-Fc was apparent 1 h post-training. Experimental amnesia was also induced by post-training injections with ephrin-Fc suggesting a role in recall. This is the first demonstration that Eph molecules function to regulate the formation of memory in insects.
- Associative learning
- Eph receptor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience