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In honeybees (Apis mellifera), the proteasome inhibitor Z-Leu-Leu-Leu-CHO (MG132) enhances long-term memory (LTM) formation. Studies in vertebrates using different inhibitors of the proteasome demonstrate the opposite, namely an inhibition of memory formation. The reason for this contradiction remains unclear. MG132 is an inhibitor of the proteasome, but also blocks other proteases. Accordingly, one possible explanation might be that other proteases affected by MG132 are responsible for the enhancement of LTM formation. We test this hypothesis by comparing the effect of MG132 and the more specific proteasome inhibitor clasto-lactacystin beta-lactone (β-lactone). We show that these two inhibitors block the activity of the proteasome in honeybee brains to a similar extent, do not affect the animals' survival but do enhance LTM retention upon olfactory conditioning. Thus, the enhancement of LTM formation is not due to MG132-specific side effects, but to inhibition of a protease targeted by MG132 and β-lactone, i.e. the proteasome.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Biol

Publication Date





3441 - 3446


Insect, Memory, Protein degradation, Ubiquitin proteasome system, Animals, Bees, Conditioning, Classical, Lactones, Leupeptins, Memory, Long-Term, Odorants, Oligopeptides, Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex, Proteasome Inhibitors, Ubiquitin