Defect in cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase due to the dunce mutation of learning in Drosophila melanogaster

Nature. 1981 Jan 1;289(5793):79-81. doi: 10.1038/289079a0.


Cyclic AMP is an intracellular mediator ('second messenger') in the nervous and endocrine control of cellular function, regulating different processes in different cell types. Although evidence is incomplete, it seems that cyclic AMP enhances the calcium-mediated release of neurotransmitter in some neurones. A simple form of memory in the mollusc Aplysia is probably encoded as a cyclic AMP-induced enhancement of neurotransmission at certain synapses of the central nervous system. The possibility that cyclic AMP participates in learning mechanisms may be explored using genetic mutants. For this purpose the fruitfly Drosophila is suitable as it is genetically well characterized and can learn through olfaction, vision or taste. We show here that independent searches for mutations of olfactory learning and of cyclic AMP metabolism, and for mutations causing female infertility have each led to the same gene--the dunce gene. Our evidence indicates that the normal dunce gene may specify a cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3',5'-Cyclic-AMP Phosphodiesterases / genetics
  • 3',5'-Cyclic-AMP Phosphodiesterases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Mutation
  • Smell / physiology


  • Cyclic AMP
  • 3',5'-Cyclic-AMP Phosphodiesterases