Critical role of amyloid-like oligomers of Drosophila Orb2 in the persistence of memory

Cell. 2012 Feb 3;148(3):515-29. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.01.004. Epub 2012 Jan 26.


A long-standing question in the study of long-term memory is how a memory trace persists for years when the proteins that initiated the process turn over and disappear within days. Previously, we postulated that self-sustaining amyloidogenic oligomers of cytoplasmic polyadenylation element-binding protein (CPEB) provide a mechanism for the maintenance of activity-dependent synaptic changes and, thus, the persistence of memory. Here, we found that the Drosophila CPEB Orb2 forms amyloid-like oligomers, and oligomers are enriched in the synaptic membrane fraction. Of the two protein isoforms of Orb2, the amyloid-like oligomer formation is dependent on the Orb2A form. A point mutation in the prion-like domain of Orb2A, which reduced amyloid-like oligomerization of Orb2, did not interfere with learning or memory persisting up to 24 hr. However the mutant flies failed to stabilize memory beyond 48 hr. These results support the idea that amyloid-like oligomers of neuronal CPEB are critical for the persistence of long-term memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amyloid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Aplysia / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Memory
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Point Mutation
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • mRNA Cleavage and Polyadenylation Factors / chemistry
  • mRNA Cleavage and Polyadenylation Factors / metabolism*


  • Amyloid
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Orb2 protein, Drosophila
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Transcription Factors
  • mRNA Cleavage and Polyadenylation Factors