The Role of CREB in Long-term Memory in Caenorhabditis elegans

Currently 30 million Americans suffer from some form of clinically recognized memory disorder. During the last 25 years, basic neurobiological research has begun to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms for memory formation. One of the key players discovered to be involved in the formation of protein synthesis dependent long-term memory (LTM) is the transcription factor cAMP response element binding protein (CREB). CREB has been shown to be a necessary protein for the formation of LTM in diverse species including sea hares, fruit flies, mice and humans. Tiffany Timbers is exploring whether CREB is also essential for the long-term habituation observed in Caenorhabditis elegans (a tiny nematode), which can become “used to” repeated stimulation such as tapping on the Petri dish where it lives. Tiffany will determine whether CREB activity (resulting in the transcription of cAMP responsive genes) occurs in the neurons that generate the plasticity responsible for LTM. By investigating the involvement of CREB in the biological pathway underlying the memory of habituation in C. elegans, this research could contribute to the development of new gene targets, drug screens and preclinical data to suggest drug classes capable of helping those affected by memory cognition defects.