Dynamically expressed single ELAV/Hu orthologue elavl2 of bees is required for learning and memory

Pinar Ustaoglu, Jatinder Kaur Gill, Nicolas Doubovetzky, Irmgard Haussmann, Thomas Dix, Roland Arnold, Jean-Marc Devaud, Matthias Soller

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Changes in gene expression are a hallmark of learning and memory consolidation. Little is known about how alternative mRNA processing, particularly abundant in neuron-specific genes, contributes to these processes. Prototype RNA binding proteins of the neuronally expressed ELAV/Hu family are candidates for roles in learning and memory, but their capacity to cross-regulate and take over each other’s functions complicate substantiation of such links. Honey bees Apis mellifera have only one elav/Hu family gene elavl2, that has functionally diversified by increasing alternative splicing including an evolutionary conserved microexon. RNAi knockdown demonstrates that ELAVL2 is required for learning and memory in bees. ELAVL2 is dynamically expressed with altered alternative splicing and subcellular localization in mushroom bodies, but not in other brain regions. Expression and alternative splicing of elavl2 change during memory consolidation illustrating an alternative mRNA processing program as part of a local gene expression response underlying memory consolidation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1234
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Winterbourne garden (Birmingham) and Lucie Hotier (Toulouse) for providing bees, Valérie Hilgers for rabbit anti-ELAV antibodies, Karthik Nallasivan for help with imaging, Reinhard Stöger for discussions and comments on the manuscript. For this work we acknowledge funding from the Sukran Sinan Fund, the Genetics Society, the Biochemical Society and BBSRC. JMD acknowledges funding from the CNRS and Université Paul Sabatier.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Bees/genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Insect Proteins/genetics
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • RNA-Binding Proteins/genetics


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