The Canadian Association for Neuroscience announced 15 Brain Star Award winners on May 9, 2022, including two LSI postdoctoral fellows and a new investigator with UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry.
Congratulations to Drs. Pierre-Yves Musso and Molly Stanley (Gordon Lab), for their postdoctoral discoveries related to the neurobiology of taste in fruit flies, and to Dr. Jessica Rosin (Assistant Professor, UBC Department of Oral Biological and Medical Sciences) for new insights on the sensitivity of embryonic neuroimmune cells to maternal stress during pregnancy!
Read about their findings and next steps
Dr. Jessica Rosin
Microglia in the embryonic brain sense maternal stress and influence brain development
Neuroimmune cells in mice are sensitive to the effects of stress during pregnancy, producing disruptions in brain development with long-lasting effects.
Recent research by Dr. Jessica Rosin, a new investigator with UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry found that male offspring of stressed mothers had a reduced number of oxytocin neurons in the hypothalamus and showed social impairments that persisted into adulthood. Her insights, published in Developmental Cell were acknowledged May 9, 2022 with a 2021 Brain Star Award.
“This paper starts to provide key linkages into how the maternal environment influences the developing brain and also underscores differences in its responses between males and females,” says Rosin.
Dr. Pierre-Yves Musso –
What drives fruit flies to binge on fructose? What makes them stop?
LSI Research Associate Pierre-Yves Musso identifies a taste-related circuit linking two sugar sensors that regulates sugar consumption in Drosophila
Glucose and fructose are always together in nature. The balance between them ensures that consumption of glucose, a primary source of energy for many life forms, will be well-regulated. But that’s not the way it plays out in a modern diet.
In a prize-winning paper published in Science Advances that earned a 2021 Brain Star Award, Dr. Pierre-Yves Musso revealed a new fundamental neural network mechanism that directly links the consumption and regulation of appetite-stimulating fructose to appetite-suppressing glucose. The study, arising from Pierre-Yves’ postdoctoral work in the Gordon lab, shows that when flies consume the typical 1:1 glucose-fructose ratio found in fruits and other natural substances, circulating glucose provides an “I am full” signal to a neural circuit in the fly brain, that regulates the drive for fructose. This circuit uses fructose as a proxy for the presence of energy in food, and glucose to induce satiety and prevent overindulgence.
Dr. Molly Stanley
Fruit flies’ fondness for certain sour flavours leads to new discoveries on the complex neurobiology of taste
Generally speaking, acids are dangerous. Not the kind of thing you should eat or drink. But fruit flies love a comparatively mild form – lactic acid – even when they can’t smell it.
Dr. Molly Stanley, who is just finishing a fellowship in the Gordon lab, investigated how fruit flies experience sourness, using calcium imaging to look at the activity of neurons involved in taste. In a paper published in Current Biology that received a 2021 Brain Star Award, Stanley and colleagues were the first to describe the sensory neural circuit for taste attraction to acid.
“Sour has been studied almost exclusively in an aversive context,” says Stanley. “We wanted to see what kind of taste cells were actually sensing the acid to mediate that behavioural attraction to lactic acid. We were surprised to find that it was actually the sweet taste neurons. These are the same neurons that are detecting sugar, are directly activated by lactic acid, and some other acids. It’s what’s driving the animal to actively be attracted to, and consume those acids.”