ABSTRACT: Odour-taste associative learning in the terrestrial slug offers a useful model for long-term memory formation and retention. The genes which are expressed over 2 h after a learning event are thought to include those related to memory formation and/or consolidation. It is very important to examine what kinds of genes are expressed following associative learning. We identified a novel slug gene, the expression of which was regulated by associative learning and mostly restricted to the procerebrum (PC), a place that olfactory information is believed to be processed in slug. This gene encodes a 121 amino acid, 18 kDa secretory protein which we term LAPS18. Expression of the LAPS18 gene was induced in somata and the protein spread to neurites in the PC of slugs subjected to paired conditioning. Recombinant LAPS18 promoted the aggregation and movement of PC neurones in culture and they were blocked by the anti-LAPS18 antibody. Beads coupled with LAPS18 protein attached to PC neurones and the beads aggregated through PC cells but not by themselves, suggesting that LAPS18 may require a counterpart molecule for PC neurone aggregation. An increased expression and translocation of LAPS18 protein after paired conditioning may be needed for long-term memory formation and retention in the slug. Since genes homologous to LAPS18 genes in the land slug Limax are found from vertebrates including human, analysing the expression and function of LAPS18 may be important in understanding the molecular mechanism of memory formation and retention.
Genes to Cells 02/2001; 6(1):43-56. · 2.68 Impact Factor