The pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis is capable of learning taste aversion and consolidating this learning into long-term memory (LTM) that is called conditioned taste aversion (CTA). Previous studies showed that some molluscan insulin-related peptides (MIPs) were upregulated in snails exhibiting CTA.Wethus hypothesized that MIPs play an important role in neurons underlying theCTA-LTMconsolidation process. To examine this hypothesis, we first observed the distribution of MIP II, a major peptide of MIPs, and MIP receptor and determined the amounts of their mRNAs in the CNS. MIP II was only observed in the light green cells in the cerebral ganglia, but the MIP receptor was distributed throughout the entire CNS, including the buccal ganglia. Next, when we applied exogenous mammalian insulin, secretions from MIP-containing cells or partially purified MIPs, to the isolated CNS, we observed a long-term change in synaptic efficacy (i.e., enhancement) of the synaptic connection between the cerebral giant cell (a key interneuron for CTA) and the B1 motor neuron (a buccal motor neuron). This synaptic enhancement was blocked by application of an insulin receptor antibody to the isolated CNS. Finally, injection of the insulin receptor antibody into the snail before CTA training, while not blocking the acquisition of taste aversion learning, blocked the memory consolidation process; thus, LTM was not observed. These data suggest that MIPs trigger changes in synaptic connectivity that may be correlated with the consolidation of taste aversion learning into CTA-LTM in the Lymnaea CNS.
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